Delays to vote a concern: Steepe

A member of the LGBTIQA+ community at Dubbo says a proposed delay of a same-sex marriage plebiscite to 2017 is concerning but he is more determined than ever to push for change.
Nanjing Night Net

On Sunday it emerged it was unlikely Australians would be asked this year to vote on whether to allow same-sex marriage, but the Turnbull government would not publicly confirm a February plebiscite.

While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said during the election campaign that he expected the plebiscite to be held by the end of the 2016, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) provided advice to the government last week that “strongly recommended” against that timing.

LGBTIQA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Questioning and Asexual) community member Nic Steepe said a proposed delay of a same-sex marriage plebiscite was concerning because it was meant to be held by the end of the year.

He continued to urge a parliamentary free vote but said if a plebiscite was to be held, it should not be delayed.

“The longer they drag out the plebiscite, even though I’m opposed to it, will give those opponents of marriage equality longer to be vocal in their opposition,” he said.

“Which does have a negative impact on people who are same-sex attracted or gender diverse.”

He said it was also concerning the plebiscite was “going to waste $160 million”.

“They should just hold a conscience vote and get it through,” he said.

The AEC strongly recommended the government not hold a national vote on the issue before the end of 2016, but the prime minister’s office and senior ministers insist the timing and question are still to be decided by cabinet.

Media reports emerged on Sunday that Mr Turnbull was expected to announce the plebiscite timeline, aiming for February, at a Coalition partyroom meeting on September 13.

And Australians would be asked the simple question: do you approve of a law to permit people of the same sex to marry?

But a spokeswoman for the prime minister said the government’s promises around holding the national vote as soon as practicable had not changed.

Minister Kelly O’Dwyer said cabinet was yet to make any decision on the timing or question, so no assumptions should be made.

Mr Steepe saidthe question in the reports was a bit concerning because it did not specifically mention the Marriage Act, only “a law”.

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