Australia’s former PM Tony Abbott has urged citizens to ‘vote no’ on equal marriage in a plebiscite to “stop political correctness”.
The country’s current right-wing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has repeatedly blocked a free vote in Parliament on equal marriage despite overwhelming public support.
The United Nations this week said the country is breaching human rights laws by refusing to legalise same-sex marriage.
Currently, the legislature does not recognise ceremonies performed outside of the country despite not permitting same-sex marriages.
This means that the country does not recognise marriages, and thus divorce proceedings are near on impossible to complete in the country, a factor that is costing Australian over $500 million.
Despite the cost, same-sex marriage could be legal in Australia by December – given a majority of parlimentarians and voters now support it.
But former Prime Minister is set on stopping the change from happening, saying that voters should choose ‘no’ when the vote happens.
He said the no vote is to “stop political correctness in its tracks”.
Current president Malcolm Turnbull allegedly gave private assurances to anti-LGBT conservatives within his own party that he would not budge on the issue during his leadership bid, in order to shore up support.
Opponents of equal marriage have sought to stall by calling for a non-binding public postal vote on the issue, while pro-gay factions within Turnbull’s coalition have threatened to rebel for a free vote in Parliament.
Amid the row, Tony Abbott has previously spoken out to claim that holding a free and democratic vote in Parliament would amount to “ramming through” the law.
Mr Abbott, a strong opponent of equal marriage, made the claims in a radio interview.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he said: “I certainly think [a postal vote would] be better – much better – than just trying to ram this thing though the Parliament.
“To try and ram it through the Parliament would be a breach of faith with the public.”
Mr Abbott added that the postal ballot plan would not be binding, admitting it would have no real authority.
He said: “The problem with a postal ballot is how much real authority would it have? But certainly, given the unwillingness of the Labor party to accept people should have their say, this might be an alternative.”
Mr Abbott was regularly taken to task by his gay sister over his anti-LGBT stances during his time in power.
Since leaving power he has faced scrutiny over his ties to extreme anti-LGBT groups in the US.
Mr Abbott headed to the US on a trip funded by fundamentalist group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) – despite the group pressuring countries around the world to keep sodomy laws banning gay sex.
The ex-leader previously claimed equal marriage was an attack on children.
He said: “We shouldn’t try to change something without understanding it, without grasping why it is that one man and one woman open to children until just a very few years ago has always been considered the essence of marriage and the heart of family.
“We can’t shirk our responsibilities to the future, but let’s also respect and appreciate values and institutions that have stood the test of time and pass them on, undamaged, when that’s best. That’s a goal we should all be able to share.
“Policymakers shouldn’t be judgmental about people’s personal choices… but we can’t be indifferent to the erosion of family given its consequences for the wider community.”
Citing a predecessor, he claimed “the traditional family was the best social welfare system that mankind has ever devised.”