Australia’s former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull has received strong criticism from gay marriage activists for favoring civil unions over marriage in a recent speech.
‘While I am very doubtful the numbers are there to legislate for gay marriage in the federal parliament I think they are certainly there to legislate for civil unions,’ Turnbull said at Southern Cross University, New South Wales.
He added: ‘I think it would be great pity if marriage is not able to be passed in parliament, and that opportunity to pass civil unions should be taken up.’
Responding to the speech, Australia’s Marriage Equality National Convener, Alex Greenwich said: ‘Where civil unions have been enacted, they entrench discrimination rather than remove it.’
He added: ‘Mr Turnbull should know better than to suggest civil unions as a way forward.
‘Civil unions may be a politically expedient cop-out for politicians, but they will never be a solution to the acute hurt and discrimination held by so many same-sex couples, their families, and their communities.
‘Turnbull’s own polling proves Australians aspire to a nation that provides equality for loving and committed couples, not one that settles on convenient half measures for politicians.’
This speech follows Turnbull’s recent call for a conscience vote on gay marriage.
Polls have shown the majority people in each state support gay marriage, for example in South Australia where 67% agree that it should be legalized.