Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Aussie Lawmakers Debate Laws for Boycotters of Gay Weddings

Aussie Lawmakers Debate Laws for Boycotters of Gay Weddings

'Australia's anti-discrimination laws were amended in 2013 to enact important protections for LGBTI people in recognition of the unacceptable levels of discrimination.

Senator Paterson's bill is favoured by some Coalition conservatives for its added protections for religious freedom and freedom of speech, but has drawn criticism from same-sex marriage advocates, who argue it would legalise discrimination against one group of Australians.

"[But] I don't believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the Government would not countenance, making legal discrimination that is unlawful today".

WA Liberal Senator Dean Smith will make history this week, confirming he will introduce his same-sex marriage Bill on Thursday - a day after the result of the postal survey is announced.

The proposed bill has been heavily criticised by supporters of gay marriage with Alex Greenwich, co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality, claiming it has the potential to "divide Australians".

The Paterson bill is expected to enjoy substantial support from that quarter as it implements demands from Tony Abbott, Matt Canavan, Michael Sukkar, Zed Seselja, Andrew Hastie, Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews.

Mr Turnbull was responding to Liberal senator James Paterson's bill, which would extend religious protections to allow private businesses to refuse goods and services for gay weddings if they have "conscientious objections".

Tennis great and same-sex marriage critic Margaret Court said she still believed the No vote would prevail, but warned a Yes victory would change Australia for ever.

Nevertheless, discussions are well under underway as to how same-sex marriage might be legislated.

If the result is 'no, ' Turnbull has said it will be off the agenda as long as the Liberal Party is in charge. However, if the Labor Party wins the next federal election, we could see marriage equality be reintroduced in parliament. It would also provide immunity under anti-discrimination law for people who hold, express, and act on various traditional beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and gender.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed a conservative-backed same-sex marriage bill, warning sweeping religious protections that discriminate against gay couples will have no chance of passing Parliament.

"It would be self-defeating to repeal discrimination and replace it with discrimination", he said.

"If Australians vote for marriage equality and then ... the parliament for any reason delays or seeks to obfuscate or seeks to thwart the wishes of the Australian people, then I think the view of our parliament, the view of this process will be significantly diminished", he told Sky News.

"They can be debated ... but they shouldn't be confused with this bill which is created to deliver marriage equality".

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