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Gay former High Court judge will boycott Australia's marriage equality vote

Justice Kirby said he would rather wait longer to marry his partner of 50 years than have it decided through a postal vote

Gay former High Court judge will boycott Australia's marriage equality vote
The Honourable Justice Michael Kirby.

Australia’s first gay High Court judge said he would boycott a planned postal vote on marriage equality.

Former Justice Michael Kirby is one of Australia’s most respected legal figures. Justice Kirby served on the High Court of Australia for 13 years.

Justice Kirby said he was hurt the government would put the issue of same-sex marriage to a postal vote.

On Monday the government held a meeting to decide its position on the the issue once and for all. Many were hoping they might convinced to hold a free vote. Instead it stuck firm on the idea of holding a plebiscite and if that failed to pass the Senate again – it did fail, on Thursday -it would hold a postal vote.

The postal vote would not be compulsory and would be non-binding. If the majority of people voted yes, parliament would then hold a vote to decide to pass the legislation. If the majority of people voted no, that would be the end of same-sex marriage in Australia. Also, Australians would not get a chance to see the legislation they are voting on until after casting their ballots.

Justice Kirby labelled the plan a ‘Mickey Mouse’ endeavour. He said he was disappointed with his good friend Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s position.

‘A little bit of leadership on this issue – where he speaks from the heart and speaks in terms of ideas of equality and the dignity of all people – is what is required of him now,’ he told Fairfax Media.

Kirby labelled the postal vote as undemocratic.

‘It’s unscientific, it doesn’t conform to the rudimentary requirements of polling,’ he said.

‘It has never been attempted ever in the making of laws in Australia. It doesn’t even have the merit that a plebiscite had of a national compulsory vote, which has at least been done once.’

Kirby who has been with his partner Johan van Vloten for 50 years will boycott the vote. He said he would prefer to wait than have his rights decided this way.

High Court challenge

Some of Australia’s leading marriage equality advocates and the Equality Campaign have lodged seperate bids in the High Court to stop the postal vote going ahead.

In less than 24 hours their respective crowdfunding campaigns raised more than $100,000 to cover the cost of the High Court challenges.


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