same sex marriage australia
3 min read

After almost eight weeks of campaigning the Australian public finally have their chance to vote on Saturday in the 2016 Federal Election.

The main game is between The Liberal Party and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, up against The Labor Party and its leader Bill Shorten. Both men come from legal backgrounds and both have been involved in messy leadership removals of sitting Prime Ministers in the past few years.

But this year LGBT issues and policies are firmly on the agenda, particularly surrounding the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Labor Leader Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

The Liberal/National Party Coalition has committed to holding a nationwide plebiscite if re-elected. The $160 million opinion poll would be held before the end of 2016 and if passed by the Australian people would be enacted into law.

The Labor Party, on the other hand, believe the Parliament should make the decision and have declared that if they win the election a vote would be held in parliament within the first 100 days of their new Government.

The third major party in Australia is The Greens and they believe marriage equality should be voted into law as soon as possible. They have no chance of becoming the Government but if Labor wins the election then The Greens will the support passing of same-sex laws.

This year there also seems to be an increase of out gay candidates standing for seats across the country.

The LGBT community is very well represented already in parliament and it looks by the end of this election there may be a lot more looking after our community in Canberra.

Seven days ago Eikon approached three openly gay candidates looking for our votes at this election and asked for responses to some key questions.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Trent Zimmerman
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Trent Zimmerman

Those approached were Liberal Member for North Sydney Trent Zimmerman, The Greens candidate for Higgins Jason Ball and Labor Party candidate for Brisbane Pat O’Neill.

As we publish this story only Trent Zimmerman has responded to our approach and his responses are below.

Trent Zimmerman, 47, is the first openly gay member of the House of Representatives and took over the safe Liberal Seat of North Sydney late last year after former Treasurer Joe Hockey resigned from politics.

Eikon: Why is the Liberal Party best equipped to tackle the LGBT issues in Australia for the next three years?

Zimmerman: As a Liberal I have long argued that discrimination based on sexuality is wrong and this is a view founded both in my own personal circumstances but also through the liberal values of personal liberty that are at the heart of the Liberal Party’s philosophy.

Federally, the Liberal Party will institute a process I am confident will lead to marriage equality. I am also pleased that the Turnbull government is committed to improving the health of the members of the LGBTI community – one of the great strengths of our system has, for example, the largely bipartisan support that has been given to supporting those living with HIV.

My own experience in the Party has been an incredibly positive one. I am pleased that so many in the LGBTI community have found their political home as members of the Party and I am proud of the fact that it is the Liberal Party has sent the first openly gay Member to the House of Representatives.

Trent Zimmerman - Supplied
Trent Zimmerman – Supplied

Eikon: What are you personally doing to advance the rights of fellow LGBT people in your electorate?

Zimmerman: Since my election to Parliament on December 5, 2015, I have been up front in my views on behalf of the LGBTI community. In my First Speech I made clear my support for marriage equality and said I hoped my election, as the first openly gay Member of the House of Representatives, would send a message of hope to young gay and lesbian Australians.

Eikon: If your party wins the election what will happen with the marriage equality issue?

Zimmerman: Malcom Turnbull has made a commitment to hold a plebiscite before the end of the year.

I will be voting for marriage equality and lending my voice, as I have done so publicly before, to the campaign and support the case for why Australia should change the marriage act to let two people, regardless of gender, access our greatest expression of love and commitment.
The invitation remains open for the other two candidates to respond to these questions and if they do their responses will be published before election day.

Last Updated on Jun 30, 2016

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