Marriage equality activists from around Australia have signed a statement calling on Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to make a firm election promise on the issue following the passage of legislation by the UK House of Lords.
Australia’s state Equal Love groups and New South Wales’ (NSW) Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) signed the statement as they prepare to rally for marriage equality before the election in state capitals including Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.
Other protests are planned for regional centers including Townsville, Newcastle and Manly.
Activist Cat Rose signed the statement as National Queer Officer of Australia’s National Union of Students and said that the Australian Labor Party needed to make a clearer commitment on the issue before they could expect the support of the LGBT community
‘That the office of Prime Minister is now held by someone who publicly declares his support for marriage equality shows just how far we have come,’ Rose said.
‘But sentiment won't be enough. If Rudd is serious about undoing the harm these discriminatory laws have caused he needs to make firm commitments and assure us that an ALP government would this time pass equal rights.
‘One more Yes vote from Rudd won't see legislation pass, he needs to get his whole party behind him on this.’
CAAH and the Equal Love branches in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra has called for the next Australian Government to commit to pass marriage equality legislation within the first 100 days of the next parliament and for the Labor Party to bind its members to vote for the bill.
August next year will mark ten years since the Liberal-National Coalition government of John Howard formally banned same-sex marriage in Australia – something the then opposition Labor Party also supported.
Australian advocates for marriage equality also welcomed the UK House of Lords backing same-sex marriage in a final reading of a bill which will now go to Queen Elizabeth II to be signed into law.
‘If such a traditional and conservative chamber as the House of Lords can support marriage equality than Australia's politicians have no excuses for not supporting it too,’ Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome, said.
‘Australia is now alone among developed, English-speaking countries in not allowing same-sex couples to marry.’
Once the Queen signs the bill same-sex marriages will be allowed allowed in the UK, New Zealand, Canada, thirteen US states and Washington DC and thirteen other countries.
Croome said he expected many Australians would marry in the UK given close links between the two countries.
‘As if it's not bad enough that Australian couples are forced to marry under the laws of another country, once they return to Australia their solemn vows of lifelong commitment count for nothing,’ Croome said.
Over the weekend a national Galaxy poll found 11% of Coalition voters are more likely to vote Labor because of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's support for marriage equality, while 58% of voters believe Opposition leader Tony Abbott's opposition to marriage equality is out of step with community attitudes.
54% of young voters are more likely to vote Labor because of Rudd's support for same-sex marriage.
Croome renewed calls on Abbott to allow a Coalition conscience vote so the issue can be resolved as quickly as possible.