The Illawarra’s LGBTQI community will “weather the storm” that is the federal government’s “waste of money” same-sex marriage plebiscite, one of its advocates has vowed.
The Turnbull government has pushed ahead with its plan for Australians to vote on the legalisation of same-sex marriage, revealing a compulsory – yet non-binding – plebiscite would be held on February 11, 2017.
Plebiscite legislation is due to be introduced into Parliament this week, but will likely be met with resistance from Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team.
Unity Illawarra and South Coast president Robert Kandalaft is also opposed to the plan and has voiced his outrage at the government’s approach to the national vote.
“The state that the government’s in, in reference to the plebiscite, is an absolute joke,” Mr Kandalaft said, adding the $170 million process would only allow adults to influence a decision the Parliament was already qualified to make.
“It’s just disappointing, it’s such a waste of money.”
Unity is a not-for-profit organisation that supports the LGBTQI community – a group of people Mr Kandalaft described as being “tough-skinned” and prepared to maintain the fight for marriage equality.
“Growing up, your whole life you’re used to being the underdog and you become a little conditioned to knowing that you’re not going to fit into mainstream,” he said.
“So, you keep your head down and you just know that you’re a second-class citizen, basically.
“[For] the rainbow community [it] is not unfamiliar to be treated like this … we’re very tough-skinned and we’re happy to weather the storm and the fight goes on.”
The government has indicated public funding of $7.5 million would be allocated to both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ same-sex marriage campaigns.
Labor Member for Whitlam Stephen Jones described the plebiscite as a “monumental waste of money”.
In 2012, Mr Jones introduced a Private Member’s Bill on marriage equality; it didn’t succeed but has helped build momentum.
More recently, he told the Mercury the plebiscite would “divide the nation and lead to the persecution of members of the LGBTQI community”.
“It’s not like the issues are complex, this is something the Parliament should just get on with and deal [with],” Mr Jones said on Tuesday.