Voters Reject ‘Discriminatory’ Marriage Equality Amendments, Poll Says


A large majority of Australian voters don’t want same-sex couples treated differently to other couples when the Marriage Act is amended following a “yes” vote, a poll has suggested.

The Galaxy Research polling, commissioned by “yes” campaigners Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), found that in the event of a successful “yes” vote in the postal survey, 78% of Australians want the Marriage Act amended in a way that does not treat same-sex couples differently to other couples.

That figure included 98% of “Yes” voters and 43% of “No” voters, according to the polling.

Conservatives have previously demanded a staggering 100 amendments be made to Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage bill, which has broad support on both sides of the parliament and already contains exemptions for churches, religious organisations, their businesses, and existing civil celebrants who have religious objections to same-sex weddings.

Liberal MP Michael Sukkar this week called for all “conscientious objectors” to be allowed to broadly refuse services to same-sex couples.

PFLAG spokesperson Shelley Argent said the polling showed Australians want marriage equality “without any of the caveats and exemptions that will further entrench discrimination” against same-sex couples.

“If and when the ‘yes’ crosses the line first, the ‘no’ case should not be given the trophy of being able to write the legislation,” she said.

Senator Dean Smith has previously said his bill strikes a “fair balance” to protect religious freedom and a proposal to undermine existing anti-discrimination laws would not get through parliament.

“Very, very few Australians would agree that one discrimination should be removed and replaced with other discriminations,” he told The West Australian.

The PFLAG Galaxy poll also found that 66% of those who have voted in the postal survey had voted “yes”, and 7% of voters had not voted as at October 31st, rising to 12% of voters in the 25 to 34 age bracket.

But Griffith University researchers have said an academic study they’d done on 458,565 tweets during the postal survey campaign points to a narrow win for the “no” vote.

Writing for The Conversation, researchers David Tuffley and Bela Stantic said they sorted the tweets to find 207,287 unique users and found the adjusted ‘yes’ vote figure went from 72 per cent down to 57 per cent.

It dropped to 49% when the numbers were adjusted to accurately represent the 36% of voters aged over 55.

Veteran marriage equality campaigner Rodney Croome said there was no room for complacency.

“I’m concerned that 25 to 34 year olds have been less likely to return their ballots, given they are more likely to support marriage equality,” he said.

“It’s vital that the Yes campaign do all it can to encourage young Australians to return their ballots in the last few days of the postal survey.”

Last Friday was the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ suggested deadline for the posting of survey forms to ensure they’re received by the final deadline of 6pm on Tuesday, November 7.

If you haven’t mailed your survey form yet and don’t want to risk the postal system, you also have the option of delivering it in person to the ABS office in your nearest capital city.

In Brisbane, the Australian Bureau of Statistics office at 295 Ann Street in the CBD is accepting forms from 8:30am to 4:30pm each day until November 7.

The ABS offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Darwin and Canberra are also accepting forms from 8:30am to 4:30pm each day. Find the address of your nearest office here.

The result will be announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on November 15.

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