"Australians have been fighting for same-sex marriage for as long as any of the rest of us. Repeated surveys have shown most Australians support equality."
Everything you need to know about the postal survey on same-sex marriage in Australia.
I’m so excited to see the campaign for marriage equality in Australia going at full force.
I was born in the UK and my life, work, relationship keep me in London. But my father was an Aussie and I’m the proud holder of an Australian passport alongside my European one.
So it’s heartwarming to see Australia rise up to fight for marriage for all.
It occurs to me that not everyone on this side of the world will really know what’s going on in Australia, so here’s what you need to know.
Why doesn’t Australia have marriage equality already?
Australians have been fighting for same-sex marriage for as long as any of the rest of us. Repeated surveys have shown most Australians support equality.
Australia’s Parliament could have passed marriage equality quickly and easily, through a simple free vote. Parliamentarians have tried 22 times since 2004 to get it through that way.
But the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberal Party government has not wanted to alienate a minority of voters by passing the measure. To give them political cover, they’ve insisted on a public referendum or plebiscite on the issue.
Marriage equality campaigners argued this was expensive, unnecessary and divisive. We’ve experienced here how poisonous a referendum can be. And the Senate blocked the idea of a plebiscite twice.
So he came up with a new plan. It’s a non-binding postal survey of all registered Australian voters.
What is the postal vote all about?
From today (12 September), around 16 million Australian voters will get a postal survey form in the mail.
There’s only one question: ‘Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?’.
The forms must be posted back before 7 November. The results will be revealed on 15 November.
What happens next?
The postal survey is not binding. But if it’s a ‘yes’, there will be a vote in Parliament.
Most Members of Parliament support marriage equality. Even a few who oppose it say they will vote for it if the people want it.
If it’s a no, Turnbull has said he will block the issue for the rest of his time in Parliament.
But the leader of the opposition Labor party, Bill Shorten, said if he wins the next election – probably in 2019 – he would legislate on the issue in his first 90 days in government.
You can find out more about the political process and the postal vote here.
Meanwhile the public are working hard to build a fairer Australia
Politics isn’t just left to politicians. The public sets the mood.
And Australians are talking about same-sex marriage like never before.
There have been a fair few crazy comments.
Australian LGBTI campaigners feared that if there was a referendum, plebiscite or postal ballot, it would turn nasty. And they are proving right. One of the worst examples in the last week was when one homophobe went on the radio to praise Hitler for murdering gay people in Nazi concentration camps.
But there’s far more hope than hate. 30,000 people took part in a massive rally for marriage equality in Sydney on Sunday. You can see the inspiring photos here.
And check these photos out too. People are lighting up fairy lights across the country to say yes.
I may only be a ‘half’ Australian. But I am proud of my heritage. And I’m very proud of all those in Australia fighting for equality for our community right now.