In stating his opposition to Australia legalizing same-sex marriage, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce warned that Asia could see Australia as ‘decadent’ and may potentially damage negotiations and our trading relationship in the region.
‘I think that what we have to understand is that when we go there [Asia], there are judgments, whether you like it or not, that are made about us and they see in how we negotiate with them whether they see us as – whether they see us as decadent,’ he is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying.
His comments come after fellow Liberal Party member and leader of the government in the senate Eric Abetz said last week that Australia should not legalize gay marriage because no Asian country has done so.
While marriage equality advocates say Australia is now lagging behind countries such as the US, Britain, New Zealand, and Ireland, Abetz questioned whether Australia should instead be following Asia on the issue.
‘The Labor Party and other journalists tell us time and time again that we are living in the Asian century, tell me how many Asian countries have redefined marriage?’ The Herald quoted Abetz as saying in an ABC radio interview.
‘Are we in the Asian century or not? It’s amazing how certain people try to pick and choose in relation to debates. All of the sudden the United States, which is usually condemned, is now being celebrated on this bizarre decision of a 5-4 decision in the Supreme Court.’
He added that legalizing same-sex marriage could open a ‘Pandora’s box’ of legalizing other unions, including polyamory, he said in a Sky News interview.
While no country in Asia has legalized same-sex marriage, many countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Singapore recognize polygynous marriages under Sharia Law which applies only to Muslims.
Under Sharia law, a Muslim man can marry up to four wives.
Until February this year, Muslim men in India were able to have multiple wives until a Supreme Court ruled otherwise.
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said Australia should instead be a leader of marriage law reform in Asia.
‘Most countries that have similar legal and political systems to Australia have all embraced marriage equality. It is important that Australia provides leadership and hope to our Asian neighbors on this important reform, especially with the growing campaign for marriage equality across Asia.’
A multi-party same-sex marriage bill is expected to be introduced when Parliament resumes in August.