Article: Star Observer

A recent survey has found that ninety per cent of LGBT+ Australians are against the religious exemptions proposed in the government’s draft marriage equality bill.

The proposals would allow same-sex couples to be refused service by civil celebrants, faith-owned businesses and other service providers in return for legalising same-sex marriage.

 The bill was introduced by Attorney General George Brandis, who proposed that same-sex couples could be turned away by a celebrant or business if they were against the marriage on religious grounds.

In response, advocacy groups just.equal and PFLAG released a survey asking LGBT+ Australians to express their views on the bill.

National spokesperson for PFLAG, Shelley Argent, said the results of the survey were a clear indication of where Australia’s sexual and gender diverse community stood on the proposals.

“The majority of LGBT+ people are clearly saying that access to marriage on condition they can be refused services is not marriage equality,” she said.

“We will not launch a lobbying campaign on the back of this survey to show politicians that LGBT+ people want true marriage equality, not a watered-down version that entrenches prejudice and discrimination.”

The survey found that 81 per cent of respondents opposed the idea that services could be refused, though this rose to 90 per cent once they discovered the government’s proposals targeted same-sex couples specifically.

It also found that support for marriage equality remains high, with 98 per cent of the LGBT+ Australians in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.

One respondent left a comment saying Australia should be living in a secular democracy in 2017.

“No other group in society has had their civil or human rights made subject to people’s beliefs,” they wrote.

Another respondent said they’d rather wait for full marriage equality than have it pass conditionally now.

“As important as marriage equality is to me, I would rather wait than face a conditional system like this,” they wrote.

“A system that allows people to discriminate on us based on our sexuality is compromised and flawed.”

The survey was undertaken by 6,342 Australians, making it likely to be the largest LGBT+ national survey.

The Senate is currently conducting an inquiry into the government’s draft marriage equality legislation, and the survey will be submitted to the inquiry.