Jason Groves (right) President of Liberals Abroad UK entered into a civil union with his partner in 2011. Photo: SuppliedLondon: Liberal party members living in the United Kingdom have declared their official support for the “yes” campaign in the postal survey on same-sex marriage.
The declaration from Australian Liberals Abroad – UK makes it one of the first officially affiliated Coalition party groups to declare its support for change, despite strong opposition from party conservatives and many elected MPs, including former prime minister Tony Abbott.
President Jason Groves, who is gay, told Fairfax Media the organisation polled its members, comprising about 100, to ask if the organisation should take a position and if so, what that position should be.
Every response was in favour of backing the yes campaign and the executive committee’s decision was also unanimous. Mr Groves said he was not surprised by the outcome.
“In a country where same-sex marriage is legal, and no longer in any way controversial, it makes complete sense,” he said.
He declined to criticise Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to hold the postal survey in the first place, a tactic condemned by Australian Marriage Equality, the leading group campaigning for same-sex marriage.
He said Mr Turnbull, who personally supports same-sex marriage and has previously argued Parliament should decide the matter, had been clear about the plebiscite before the last election.
“I’d rather we got on with it and focused on winning,” he said.
The latest Newspoll found 55 per cent of Coalition voters supported changing the law to allow same-sex marriage, 39 per cent opposed it and 9 per cent had no opinion. The same poll found 63 per cent of voters overall in Australia supported the change. UK an example
Mr Groves pointed to the UK, where same-sex marriage was legalised by the Conservatives under David Cameron in 2013 and came into effect in 2015. Mr Cameron recently told PinkNews that the passage of the legislation was one of his “proudest achievements.”
“Marriage is a great institution and I have long believed that it should be there for everybody; it now is and Britain led the way,” Mr Cameron said.
Mr Groves said Mr Cameron’s success had been won by effective campaigning and taking the country with him on the issue.
He said many of the claims made by critics of same-sex marriage in the UK at the time, and currently in Australia, about potential wider effects of changing the meaning of marriage, had failed to materialise.
“The only effect is that more people have got married,” he said.
But he said it was vital to address concerns raised by religious organisations and honour their right to practise their faith, including the right to refuse to marry gay couples.
“There is a conservative argument for same-sex marriage,” he said. ‘People are on long journeys’
Mr Groves entered into a civil union with his partner in 2011, seven years after they began their relationship. He attended a same-sex marriage on the weekend and said the newlyweds and guests expressed their disbelief that gay marriage had happened in their lifetimes.
“Even the two young grooms said that they couldn’t believe when they were adolescents they’d ever be able to do this,” he said.
“Many guests who come to these ceremonies also would never have thought they would attend, let alone celebrate, the marriage of two people of the same sex. But all you have is joy and happiness, just like at any wedding.”
Britian decriminalised homosexuality 50 years ago but sodomy was not completely eliminated as a crime in Australia until as recently as 1997.
“We shouldn’t forget just how far and quickly attitudes have rapidly changed, people are on long journeys,” he said. Plea to enrol
Australians have until the end of Thursday to enrol to vote. Unlike regular elections, voting in the postal survey is not compulsory.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is managing the survey and will begin posting the survey form to those enrolled over a two-week period from September 12.
Voters have until close of business on Friday 7 November 2017 to return their forms to the ABS.
But Australians overseas will be allowed to vote online.
“This method will be made available only to Australians overseas,” the ABS said.
“Eligible Australians in these categories will be able to request a secure access code from the ABS. The secure access code is then used to provide a survey response.”
It is estimated that about 87,000 Australians live in the United Kingdom, and Mr Groves urged those old enough to vote to check they had not fallen off the electoral roll.
In the 2013 election, 15,000 votes were registered at Australia House.
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.