Support Drops for Non-Binding Marriage Equality Plebiscite
21 July 2016 at 10:02 am
Support for the proposed same-sex marriage plebiscite has fallen after Australians became aware that the results of the $160 million exercise would not be binding in Parliament, a new poll has found.
According to a Fairfax report, the Galaxy Research poll of 1,000 people found 48 per cent support the plebiscite.
However, this lowered to 35 per cent when respondents were informed that the result would not be binding, and support dropped further, to 25 per cent, when they were told of the cost involved.
The national spokesperson for Not for Profit group Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Shelley Argent, who commissioned the poll, told Pro Bono Australia News she was pleased with the results.
“I think it’s very encouraging, and I think… the Coalition [is] really doing the wrong thing by prolonging the decision to have a plebiscite and all they’re doing is drawing it out,” Argent said.
“Nobody wants a plebiscite anyway, they [the government] would be more forward thinking if they forgot the plebiscite, if they just had a free vote, because that’s what the vast majority of Australians want.
“And even if they’re not LGBT, they still just want it done… so that they can then move onto other important things, or more important things.”
Argent said she commissioned the poll because she believed support for the plebiscite was overstated.
“It just didn’t seem to us that it was correct that everybody wanted a plebiscite, and people also didn’t understand what the plebiscite entailed,” she said.
“I mean it’s all very well to say, ‘I want to have a say’ or ‘yes the people should have a say’ but many didn’t understand the cost, they didn’t understand the impact, they didn’t understand that it was non-binding.
“What’s important is the more that people learn about this, and this is what our goal is, to educate the general public, the more they understand, the more they go, ‘we don’t need a plebiscite, just get on with it’, and when you think about what they could do with $160 million, what a waste.”
Argent said that the public and political discussion around marriage equality and LGBTQI rights was already taking its toll on the community.
She also said she was concerned it would worsen when the plebiscite is announced and anti-marriage-equality groups mobilise.
“It’s beginning to have a negative impact, and this is what’s so bad, the debate actually hasn’t even started, but people are fearful, they don’t know what’s going to happen. Of course many are expecting the worst,” she said.
“It’s a different issue but it’s the same impact – it’s like with the issue about Islam and such at the moment, the attacks are increasing, the abuse is increasing, and that’s what’s happening, it’s just the same as what’s happening with this issue of marriage equality.”
On Monday night Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the plebiscite, which was due to be held this year, could be pushed back to early 2017.