Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

MPs Push for Luck of Irish

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

MPs Push for Luck of Irish

Article excerpt

Byline: Vani Naidoo

THE decision by popular vote in Ireland last week to legalise gay marriage has forced the issue to the forefront in Australia too.

Several parliamentarians and social commentators have called on our government to take the sort of action needed that would result in all the citizens of this great land equal in the eyes of the law.

That the uprising of social conscience came in Ireland, a country Catholic to its core, is both heart-warming and mind boggling in equal measure. This is, after all, the same island nation where homosexuality was illegal until 1993, divorce banned until 1996 and abortion still a no-no unless the mother's life is in very real danger.

Yet they managed to get it together, becoming the 19th country to legalise gay marriage and letting the world know in the strongest way possible that together Ireland stands tall.

All this, while Australia flounders.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was quick to squash talk of a referendum here saying gay marriage in Australia was a matter for Federal Parliament rather than a popular vote.

Odd that.

One would think that giving every Australian the opportunity to finally right a wrong in a voice so loud it cannot be ignored would be a far more effective and unequivocal response than to leave it to MPs who are out of touch with their constituents on more than just this debate.

Yes, odd but hardly surprising given Mr Abbott's clear stance against gay marriage. He is, by his own admission, "the last holdout for the traditional position even inside the Abbott family". A bit awkward at family gatherings, one would hazard a guess, considering the Prime Minister's sister Christine Forster is gay and has been living with her partner for more than a decade.

As it happens, Australia doesn't need a referendum to legalise gay marriage. All it would take is a vote through Parliament and a change to the marriage laws.

But Mr Abbott does not support a conscience vote either and said he does not know if the issue will come before Parliament again despite the attempts of Senator David Leyonhjelm to get the Liberal party room to debate the issue. …

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