Marriage vote planned in November

Maddi Ostapiw

Maddi Ostapiw

WIMMERA voters could get a chance to vote on whether or not to legalise same-sex marriage in November.

However, Wimmera Pride Project co-founder Maddi Ostapiw said she was concerned for the welfare of gay and transgender youth in the region during the forthcoming national debate.

“I, along with the rest of the LGBTI community, are broken-hearted,” she said.

“There might have been some positive change but the people in charge of our political process have decided not to do what they were elected to do.

“They have decided to push ahead with another plebiscite that failed in the Senate last time.”

Ms Ostapiw said a national debate on marriage would allow some groups to run a campaign based on hate.

The federal government will attempt to pass legislation to allow a national in-person vote on same-sex marriage on November 25, similar to a referendum vote.

If the election-style plebiscite fails to pass, which is likely given opposition in the senate, then a postal plebiscite will be held.

The proposal was to mail out the ballots on September 12 with a requirement to return them by November 7, giving voters eight weeks to have their say.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday that the postal plebiscite would be run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and would cost $122 million, about $40 million less than an in-person vote.

Ms Ostapiw said a non-compulsory postal vote would prevent a lot of younger people having their say.

“It is completely rigged against the LGBTI community. We know that young people will not be properly represented via snail mail,” she said.

“I’m not sure we can trust Australia Post to look after something as important as marriage equality.”

Member for Mallee Andrew Broad has pledged to vote on same-sex marriage in line with the plebiscite result in his electorate.