LGBTQIA+ advocates fearful postal plebiscite will lead to hate and apathy

POST BACK IN VOGUE: Chiltern's Sheridan Williams will ensure her vote in favour of same-sex marriage makes it to the town's historic mail box, in the event of a postal plebiscite. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS

POST BACK IN VOGUE: Chiltern's Sheridan Williams will ensure her vote in favour of same-sex marriage makes it to the town's historic mail box, in the event of a postal plebiscite. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS

A postal plebiscite to decide the issue of marriage equality has been described as “an outdated method for an outdated conversation” by LGBTQIA+ advocates.

The federal government announced on Tuesday it would try to reintroduce its plebiscite into the Senate this week, but if the vote failed – which is likely – it would then move to conduct a postal vote of the Australian public instead.

Costing $122 million, the postal plebiscite papers would be sent out on September 12, to be returned by early November and possibly result in legal same-sex marriage by Christmas.

WayOut Wodonga member Sheridan Williams, who has advocated as part of the group for the past four years, said many people who did not mind if same-sex marriage was legalised may not be bothered to fill out a form.

She feared those angrily against marriage equality may outnumber gay people who are passionate for change.

“Why are we spending money we could use on making this country better on something that shouldn’t necessarily need to be a vote?” Ms Williams said.

“The last thing we all voted on was what national anthem do we have.

“That’s what it’s supposed to be used for, not something like ‘can two people who love each other marry each other?’.

“That’s ridiculous – it’s a waste of money and all it’s going to do is make people really upset and it’s just going to incite vitriol.”

She was one of the lucky ones to be accepted by her family as a gay person and had suffered very little homophobia in the North East community over the years, but was worried what other youths might face during a campaign against marriage equality.

“They’re going to hear so many things they don’t need to hear,” Ms Williams said. 

“You have to fight to be a part of this country and have the rights that everyone else does, that shouldn’t happen … We are gay, but we’re also just people.”

Hume Phoenix co-convenor Toni Johnson said it was “so wrong” the plebiscite was not binding and could be overruled by politicians.

“It’s not good enough, it could have been done yesterday (with a vote in Parliament),” she said.

“A lot of people are disheartened and upset … Why do people get a say if we can marry when it’s nothing to do with them?”

Hume Phoenix will conduct a campaign ahead of the postal plebiscite, which Ms Johnson said would be needed to counter the expected hate campaign.

“The haters will be the ones who vote and the others won’t because they’re too blaze,” she said.

“We’ll be pushing everyone to just take that time to vote.”

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