Australia: High Court hears challenges to controversial same-sex marriage vote
The High Court of Australia has started hearing petitions challenging the government's bid to conduct a national vote to gauge citizens' support for legalizing same-sex marriages. If conducted, the vote could pave way for amending Australia's Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriages. On the flip side, if the court upholds these challenges, the vote may be scrapped altogether. Here's more about it.
Many who support same-sex marriages argue against the vote, maintaining that the matter should be debated by Parliament alone. They fear that the survey would trigger hate campaigns. The government's decision to allocate a whopping $122 million for the survey has also attracted controversy.
The legal validity of the vote has been questioned in two separate challenges. Challengers argue that $122 million was not allocated through a "normal parliamentary process." They maintain that the fund allocation was not justified by an "urgent and unforeseen" need, as justified by Parliament. They further question the authority of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to oversee the vote.
Defending his government's actions, PM Turnbull stated, "We are confident the challenge to the postal vote on marriage will not be successful, so we are very confident the postal vote will go ahead."
Past surveys have suggested that majority of Australians favor legalizing same-sex marriages. If the court rules in favor of the government, the vote will be conducted between September 12-October 27. The results will be declared on November 15. This is then likely to pave way for tabling a bill in the Australian Parliament to change their Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriages.