Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 February 2017) . . Page.. 436 ..
bind me into doing something here. Of course, like numerous other motions by Labor MLAs, this motion is about grandstanding rather than actually progressing a cause.
It is also worth noting that if 77 per cent of Australians support changing the definition of marriage, as is claimed in paragraph 2(a) of the motion, then at this point in time, this week, the commonwealth parliament would be changing the definition of marriage because a plebiscite would have occurred on Saturday, 11 February had Labor not blocked that vote.
It is also interesting to note that one of the reasons that Labor stated for opposing the national plebiscite was that they did not want to have a debate that risked becoming divisive. However, here in the Assembly, of course, Labor had no qualms whatsoever in trying to capitalise on any division that may or may not take place here, in effect trying to use this issue as a political football.
Madam Speaker, we have had this debate on numerous occasions. It is well known that there are mixed views in the opposition on this commonwealth issue. However, we also know, as I just stated, that this is a federal issue and has been confirmed as such by the High Court. As such we will leave it to the commonwealth. We will not be supporting the motion.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (10.09): The Greens, of course, support this motion. We are very proud to provide our full support for the motion. The ACT Greens have always believed that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex and queer people should be treated equally under our laws and in our community. We have been the only party consistently resolved on standing for marriage equality. Federally my counterparts have always voted for marriage equality: every MP, every time. Locally, we have supported ongoing amendments to increase equality, including the Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013.
Turning to the plebiscite, the Greens were the first to indicate that they would vote against the plebiscite. We believe this was the right thing because the LGBTIQ community had made it abundantly clear that they believed a plebiscite would do more damage than equal marriage was worth. They were concerned that it would be unnecessarily divisive. Clearly, of course, it was expensive and potentially a licence for free hate speech.
The LGBTIQ community themselves were very concerned that there would be adverse outcomes, that young people struggling with their sexuality or gender identity would absorb the negative attitudes and ignorant linkages to bestiality, paedophilia and promiscuity. There is already a disproportionate level of mental illness among this population group, mental health illnesses that arise not from their sexuality or their gender issues but from the internalised homophobia or transphobia and the externalised expression of these phobias.
We were concerned that the community saw the plebiscite as potentially open slather for these issues to be expressed in a very negative way. Of course, as we all know, a plebiscite is not needed for the legislation to change in the parliament. Firstly, of course, the plebiscite would not bind any federal MP to vote in any particular way.