LGBTI groups release a joint statement on the plebiscite

A network of organisations and leaders of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities released a statement today condemning the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill.

“This network of LGBTI organisations and leaders have come together in support for marriage equality and, to express our opposition to the proposed plebiscite and today’s released machinery bill,” Australians for Equality (A4E) Co-Chair and Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation with the Human Rights Law Centre, Anna Brown said.

“No MP should be asked to vote on a plebiscite that will reform the marriage act without knowing what those changes are.

“We ask the Australian Parliament to remember that this is about members of your families, friends, colleagues and teammates who simply want their relationships to be afforded the same dignity and value as their fellow Australians,” Ms Brown said.

There are a number of key concerns highlighted by the signatories regarding the proposed plebiscite. These include:

●      No government amendments to the Marriage Act have been provided as yet, nor are they guaranteed to come into effect following a successful Yes vote. It is unreasonable to expect the community and the parliament to vote on a plebiscite without first seeing the detail of what will be enacted upon a successful vote.

●      It is unacceptable to use $15 million of tax-payer dollars to fund the YES and NO committees, adding to the already extraordinary cost of the plebiscite. The proposal requires no truth-in-advertising test, yet will be seen as being endorsed by the Australian Government.

●      The Government’s bill will create an uneven playing field. Religious organisations already enjoy a range of tax benefits and concessions denied to other entities. Few LGBTI organisation have comparable tax deductibility status. Limiting tax-deductible donations to $1500 for individuals will exacerbate this unfairness.

●      The question is unnecessarily complex and the wording 'same-sex' fails to be fully inclusive of all LGBTI relationships. Media reports that the question has been crafted to improve the chances of a ‘no’ vote are troubling.

●      The plebiscite package provides no strategies or funding to address the considerable concern about the impact of the plebiscite on LGBTI communities, our families and friends. We have already seen reports of LGBTI Australians distressed.

“Two thirds of the Australian people, a majority of the parliament and leaders of all major parties support every Australian being treated fairly and equally through the Marriage Act. It is time for the Parliament to deliver marriage equality.

“We call on our parliamentary supporters to start working together on a pathway that delivers marriage equality in this parliament without delay,” Australian Marriage Equality (AME) Chair, Alex Greenwich concluded.

A copy of the statement can be found here.