In disappointing news for supporters of marriage equality in Australia, its High Court has just ruled a planned survey on the issue can go ahead.
The Australian government decided to hold a non-binding postal survey on marriage equality last months. But advocates argued the process was not fair, legal and would have a negative effect on the LGBTI community who would become vulnerable to a vitriolic campaign from the ‘no’ side.
But two seperate cases were launched in the High Court to stop the postal vote. The plaintiffs in one of the cases was advocacy groups Australian Marriage Equality and Greens Federal Senator Janet Rice.
The other plaintiffs were Felicity Marlowe, president of Rainbow Families, Shelley Argent, national president of PFLAG Australia and MP Andrew Wilkie.
The High Court handed down its decision on Thursday afternoon after hearing arguments from the plaintiffs and lawyers representing the Federal Government.
The court will release its reasons for its findings in the coming weeks.
The postal survey ballots will be mailed to 16 million Australians from 12 September as originally planned.
Australia’s solicitor general, Stephen Donaghue, represented the government during the hearings. He argued that private citizens in same-sex relationships ‘have no right to challenge’ the government’s allocation of funding for the postal survey.
The survey will cost about AU$122 million (US$97,393,498. €81,653,132).
Australians will receive their survey form which will ask whether they believe the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The VoteYes.org.au coalition is made up of different organizations, people, groups, religious leaders and political parties. It is now working full steam ahead to make sure a majority of Australians vote yes.
‘We are disappointed that this unnecessary, expensive and divisive postal vote has been upheld by the High Court,’ said just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome.
‘There are many in the LGBTI community who will be feeling anxious about the prospect of a deeply personal campaign.
‘But it’s time to rally and to dedicate all of the resources at our disposal to ensure the majority of Australians vote “yes” for marriage equality.’