The Australian Greens say they will oppose holding the proposed plebicite on allowing same-sex marriage.
Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale said on Friday that holding the plebicite was a waste of money and would prove too divisive in offering a high profile debate platform for homophobia.
“The easiest, simplest, quickest, most effective, least costly and least harmful way of ensuring equality in marriage is through a vote in the parliament, and we can do that next week should the prime minister decide to show some leadership,” he said in a statement.
The Greens say they will oppose moves in parliament to enable the plebicite to go ahead and Senator Di Natale urged his paliamentary collegues who are pro-marriage equality to join his party in pushing for a simple vote to pass same-sex marriage law.
“We call on Labor and the other crossbenchers to reject the Liberals’ plebiscite and demand a free vote in the parliament,” he said.
The same sex-marriage plebicite is Coalition government policy after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is pro-marriage equality, maintained the proposal from his predecessor, Tony Abbott.
Earlier this month the Australian Electoral Commission advised the government to wait until early 2017 to hold the plebicite in order for it to be properly arranged, even though Prime Minister Turnbull had promised going into the recent federal election to hold it this year.
Critics argue that holding the plebicite is a way for those who oppose the change to delay or even prevent same-sex marriage laws from being enacted in Australia, despite polls consistently indicating a majority of Australians in favour of marriage equality.
Even if the plebicite result is in favour of same-sex marriage, parliament representatives will not be bound to enact the new law.
“A plebiscite will be harmful, it’ll be divisive, it’ll be expensive and we should never put questions of human rights to an opinion poll,” Senator Di Natale said.