LOCAL MPs have mixed feelings on whether to vote for or against same-sex marriage in the upcoming $122 million survey.
The survey won’t be legally binding, unlike a plebiscite. If the majority of Australians vote in favour of same-sex marriage, the Federal Parliament, including Flinders MP Greg Hunt and McMillan MP Russell Broadbent will have the chance to vote with their conscience.
If the majority aren’t in favour of same-sex marriage, MPs won’t be allowed a free vote.
Mr Hunt supports same-sex marriage and believes Australians are capable of having a respectful debate around the topic.
“I believe deeply in the concept of giving everyone a say on this important issue and that’s what the plebiscite provides,” he said.
“When the opportunity comes I will vote yes but everyone is entitled to their own opinion and to have their voice heard.”
Bass MP Brian Paynter and Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien declined to comment because it was a federal issue and suggested to contact the local federal member.
Federal member for the McMillan electorate Russell Broadbent said, “I have long maintained that I believe marriage should remain a union between a man and a woman.
“For many years, though, I have also supported a conscience vote by members.
“I will support whatever decision the people come to in a plebiscite.”
Eastern Victoria Labor MP Harriet Shing called out the $122 million survey as a “colossal” waste of money.
“That’s all for a survey that’s voluntary and non-binding,” she said.
Ms Shing is the first out woman in Victorian Parliament and, in a long-term relationship herself, she’ll be voting yes in the upcoming survey.
“People are really sick and tired of this issue remaining unresolved,” she said.
“The majority of Australians want us to marry the people we love. It’s simple enough until politics gets involved.”
There are many LGBTI couples who already live and have children together, Ms Shing added.
“People are keen to have their say, but the next 12 weeks is going to be incredibly distressing as we see incredibly vicious and demeaning commentary.
“I respect people’s views, although people seeking to comment on it should remember their comments have a real impact on people.
“It’s not about changing or amending or disrupting religious marriage, which will continue as it has done so for a long time now undisturbed.”
She said it was about allowing same-sex couples to have a marriage recognised by law.
“I think the vast majority of young people in Gippsland can’t understand what the fuss is about and are bewildered by why same-sex marriage hasn’t been passed in Australia, particularly when other countries have embraced it.”
She says Gippslanders are welcoming and inclusive.
“Although there’s a small and very vocal minority that advocate against equality and recognition, everyone else simply wants this issue resolved so people can go on and live their lives in a more equal way with the dignity and recognition available for those of us in same-sex relationships.”
She says it’s humiliating to be treated as an “other”.
“We know that LGBTI people are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety, be bullied and be discriminated against, to self-harm and to commit suicide more than the general population.
“We need to do a lot to fit in and justify who we are and our dignity and sense of self can take a bit of a beating.”
The other Eastern Victoria MPs, including Liberal MP Edward O’Donohue, Nationals MP Melina Bath, Shooters and Fishers Party Victoria MP Jeffrey Bourman and Labor MP Daniel Mulino did not respond to questions about their views on the survey and same-sex marriage.
Enrolments for the same-sex survey closed last week and the survey will be held later this year.