Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says he will vote “yes” in the same-sex marriage postal vote, along with his wife, Lucy.
Speaking to radio station 2Day FM, the PM said he was hurt by some of the offensive language being used by campaigners against same-sex marriage and as a long supporter of the policy change he will be voting yes in the ballots due to be mailed out in September.
“What I would say… is if you have friends who are really distressed by this sort of language, stand up for them, put your arms around them,” he said.
“I want to say to you as your prime minister, that Lucy and I will be voting ‘yes’ in the postal vote. Lucy and I have been long supporters.
“I do not think that if a gay couple gets married, who are living together, gets married, that doesn’t threaten my marriage to Lucy, which is nearly 38 years of marriage,” he said.
Overnight posters have appeared in Melbourne with the slogan: “Stop the fags” and saying that children raised by gay parents are abused.
Turnbull said while he deplores “disrespectful, abusive language whether it is directed at young gay people or people of other religions or other race”, we live in a democracy which is built on the foundations of free speech.
“This is a time when all of us in challenging times, when all of us need to support our friends and if you have friends, whether they are young people or old people, who feel threatened and a bit shook up by any debate like this, this is a time to put your arms around them and give them your love and support,” he said.
“But just to be very, very clear, I’ve been a long term supporter of allowing, legalizing same-sex marriage as it is called, marriage equality. I’ll be voting ‘yes’ as will Luce in the postal vote. I encourage everyone to participate and if you don’t agree with it, participate. Because you know, this is an exercise in democracy.”
A “yes” vote in the postal ballot would clear the way for a private members’ bill amending the Marriage Act to be introduced and be tested in a free vote in Parliament — where it would likely pass.
Although if the postal vote is shot down by in the High Court — which some legal experts say there is a “reasonable” chance of happening — Turnbull has said that there won’t be a vote on the issue in parliament.
Politicians campaigning in favour of a “no” vote include former prime minister Tony Abbott. He claims it is a freedom of speech issue and “will help to stop political correctness in its tracks”.
The postal vote will be conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics at a cost of $122 million.
Voters not already on the electoral roll have just two days to register with the Australian Electoral Commission. There’s more information on that here.
NOW READ: Betting markets are increasingly pointing to a shock ‘No’ result in Australia’s vote on same-sex marriage
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