ALP Warlord Says Conscience Vote “A Mistake” : Equal Love Calls More Street Protests

by Fiona Henderson

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) has welcomed calls from AWU National Secretary, Paul Howes, for the ALP to have a binding party vote position in support of marriage equality.

In a speech released in advance of AME’s “The Future of Marriage Equality Forum” tonight, Mr Howes said:

“The Australian Labor Party’s current position and my view at Labor’s last National Conference on marriage equality is wrong. By designating marriage equality as a conscience vote issue, we have allowed ourselves to make a basic category error; one which I believe fundamentally grates with what it is that the Labor Party stands for. It is not an issue of individual conscience; it is a matter of basic social justice… In the lead up to the next National Conference of the Labor Party, I am hopeful that many others like me who mistakenly supported a conscience vote will realise the errors of their ways.”

A binding ALP position would mean only 16 Coalition votes would be needed for marriage equality to become law. Many high profile government members have already said they want to vote for reform including Malcolm Turnbull, Kelly O’Dwyer, Arthur Sinodinos, Simon Birmingham and Wyatt Roy.

Australian Marriage Equality Deputy Director, Ivan Hinton, said of immediate concern was the way the ALP will deal with any Federal Government plans to overturn the ACT’s soon to be legislated marriage equality laws:

“Building on from Mr Howes statement, we also need the Federal Labor Party to commit to join the Greens in blocking any federal government attempts to overturn the forthcoming ACT marriage equality laws. The ACT Labor Party went to their recent election committing to deliver marriage equality. Their Federal Labor counterparts hold the key to protecting the territory’s right to legislate for what ACT voters want”.

Meanwhile Equal Love Canberra also put out a Media Release, saying that supporters of equal marriage and other rights should not be demoralised by the election of Tony Abbott as prime minister, and calling for more street protests.

Equal Love Canberra is holding a rally for marriage equality at 1pm on 5 October in Petrie Plaza. Equal Love Canberra spokesperson Chris Bourne said

“Tony Abbott has an appalling record on LGBTI rights. In the past, he has said that he feels ‘threatened’ by gays, he visited and praised the values of a school that describes homosexuality as an ‘abomination’ and gender non-conforming people as ‘going against God’. He has also stated his desire for a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy for homosexuals, which would mean the erasure of non-heterosexuality from the public sphere. Clearly this man is no friend of LGBTI people.”

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)