Young Liberals want conscience vote on same-sex marriage

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By Christopher Talbot (Twitter @CDTalbot)


Victoria’s Young Liberal’s have called on Tony Abbott to allow parliamentarians a conscience vote on same-sex marriage.

President of the Victorian Young Liberals, Aaron Lane, said the group had been very public in their view to allow a conscience vote.

“We support a conscience vote. Members should be entitled to cast a vote as they see fit.

“It is simply a matter for individuals to have the right to vote and be able to express their view, it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Advocates for marriage equality have praised young liberal support, saying it shows how “out of touch” the coalition is with young voters.

Director of Australian Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, said there was strong support among young liberals for a conscience vote.

“A conscience vote is about personal freedom and marriage equality is about strengthening relationships and families – all things which Liberals should support.

“No one expects all liberal members to vote in favour of marriage equality but at least give them the right to make a conscience vote,” he said.

Melbourne University Young Liberal Nick Fabbri, 21, is part of a growing number of young liberals that support equal marriage rights.

“I support same-sex marriage,” he said.

At the Young Liberal federal conference on February 2, a motion from the Victorian division in favour of a conscience vote gained two-thirds support from young liberals from every state in Australia.

Secretary of Equal Love Victoria, Louise O’Shea, said young liberal support was welcome but that is was not necessarily commonplace.

“Our experience generally is that they have been hostile. In the student union movement for instance they regularly oppose motions for equal rights.

“Kelly O’Dwyer and Malcolm Turnbull say they support equal marriage rights but they refuse to vote on it. They think the coherence of the coalition is more important that human rights and we think this is a betrayal of the LGBTI community and stands for nothing,” she said.

Ms O’Shea praised the support from Labor but said the conscience vote was still a “slap in the face” for same-sex marriage campaigners.

“We don’t believe civil rights are a matter of individual conscience.”

National Spokesperson for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

(PFLAG), Shelley Argent, said young liberal support shows that the issue transcends political agenda.

“Tony Abbott is really is out of touch. The polls have shown 80 percent of young people under 30 support marriage equality, and these are young liberals as well.

“It’s got nothing to do with politics, it’s got to do with what’s right. And Abbott is actively working against human rights,” she said.

A body that represents liberal groups at university campuses would not comment on the views expressed by young liberal members- or state if they were a common occurrence.

The most recent Galaxy poll on marriage equality showed over 80 percent of young people were supportive of legislation to allow same-sex marriage.


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