SYDNEY – Australia began a non-binding postal survey on Tuesday concerning the legalization of same-sex marriage, with about 16 million ballots distributed.
According to a poll by the social research organization Fairfax/Ipsos, 70 percent of citizens said they would vote for the legalization of same-sex marriages.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics began distributing the voting forms to households, a process which is scheduled to conclude by Sept. 25.
Earlier in September, the High Court rejected an appeal to block the postal survey following an argument regarding the funding.
The voting forms, which include the question “should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”, must be returned with an answer by Nov. 7. The result will be announced on Nov. 15.
If the majority of citizens vote “yes,” the government will propose a reform of the Marriage Act 1961 before Christmas, a law which was amended in 2004 to specify that marriages are restricted to a man and a woman.
But if the country votes “no,” the government will drop the proposal.
The Labor party has promised that if it wins the general election in 2019, it would organize a debate on the matter in the parliament within the first 100 days of its term.
The controversial postal survey has been criticized by politicians and activists who support the rights of the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals) community as they fear a possible backlash of hate campaigns and consider that the Parliament should directly debate the matter.
“LGBTIQ people have experienced damaging behavior in their workplaces, communities and in social and traditional media,” the National Mental Health Commission said.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is advocating a “no” vote
“I just don’t want people standing on the corner yelling at me, telling me if I don’t agree with them then I’m somehow less than human,” said Joyce. “Get out of my face.”
Last weekend, thousands of people participated in a street demonstration to show support for the legalization of same-sex marriage, a policy backed by both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten.