Media release – 16 November 2017

Same-sex marriage national vote

The Humanist Society of Victoria welcomes the result of Australia’s national survey on same-sex marriage

Gay wedding kissMelbourne, Australia – The Humanist Society of Victoria (HSV) is delighted with the outcome of the same-sex marriage postal vote. And we congratulate those who worked so hard to bring about this well-considered response from the Australian people. HSV Secretary, Stephen Stuart, said, “Humanists recognise marriage as a civil right, and we expect the federal parliament expediently to legislate for same-sex marriage, as has been promised by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and his Cabinet.”

Humanists have long advocated for rights of LGBTIQ people. Our record of support goes back to the early 1970s, when HSV was one of the few organisations publicly speaking out for the decriminalisation of homosexual acts. Our support for decriminalisation was greatly appreciated by those in the gay and lesbian communities and resulted in HSV receiving several significant bequests. More recently, HSV took the initiative of nominating Jason Ball to be the first Young Australian Humanist of the Year, in 2016, particularly for his effort in tackling homophobia in sport.

Background: As a means of resolving tensions within the governing Liberal–National Coalition, in August 2017, Cabinet decided to roll out a nation-wide survey canvassing the views of all Australians on whether the Marriage Act should be amended to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The government commissioned the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to conduct the survey between 12 September and 7 November 2017 and to analyse and report the results. The total anticipated cost was 122 million dollars, with many critics pointing out that a very accurate randomized sample survey could be conducted at a fraction of the cost.

The survey forms were sent out by Australia Post, with responses being voluntary. In addition, the result was non-binding on the Parliament of Australia. The survey contained a single question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” The results of the survey were announced by the ABS at 10:00 am on 15 November 2017. The Yes option garnered 7,817,247 votes (61.6%) while the No option received 4,873,987 votes (38.4%). The proportion of eligible voters who cast a vote was a very impressive 79.5%. The result is regarded by all sides as a convincing endorsement of the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Contact Stephen Stuart, Secretary, Humanist Society of Victoria Inc. at victorianhumanist@gmail.com