Australian Prime Minister Endorses Marriage Equality- Suggests National Referendum
|Kevin Rudd via Facebook|
Taking a dig at opposition leader Tony Abbott, Rudd challenged him to allow his party MPs a free vote on the issue. But Rudd acknowledged that it may become a necessity to hold a national referendum, which has same-sex marriage equality advocates dismayed.
"Wherever I go in Australia, young people think that our current arrangements are just wrong,’ Rudd said of marriage equality. Referring to the likely blockage of legislation by Abbott's party, Rudd added,
"Whoever wins the next election, let’s just have the civility to open this to a conscience vote for all."
Rodney Croome, the Executive Director of LGBTQ Advocacy group, Australian Marriage Equality, told reporters after the press conference;
"We're pleased Mr Rudd has re-confirmed his support for marriage equality and we echo his calls on Tony Abbott to allow a Coalition conscience vote so Australia can catch up to our closest allies, including New Zealand, Britain, Canada and the US, by allowing same-sex couples to marry."
But he warned that the process of a referendum would be "unnecessarily expensive."
Croome added that while he believed the majority of Australians would vote for marriage equality, he was concerned was about the process.
"We have consistently opposed a national plebiscite or referendum on marriage equality for a number of reasons," Mr Croome said. "It could potentially be deeply polarising, becoming a platform for fear-mongering against the gay and lesbian community, and we think that our politicians are elected to make these kinds of decisions, rather than hand-balling them back to the voters.
Croome warned that a national referendum might prove to be divisive;
"It could be quite destructive... particularly for young, same-sex attracted people coming to terms with their sexuality. "They don't need to see the kind of fear and hate campaigns that I feel would inevitably come out during a referendum."WATCH: