Thousands of people have been attending a march supporting LGBTI rights and same-sex marriage in Sydney, Australia, including the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
In one of the country’s largest LGBTI rallies, around 40,000 demonstrators participated in the rights movement, according to reports from Equal Marriage Rights Australia.
The event comes just days before the Australian Bureau of Statistics sends out 16 million voting cards to gauge the public’s support for gay rights and pose the controversial question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
Although the survey does not have any legal power, based on the majority’s response, same-sex marriage may be made possible in Australia before Christmas, parliamentarians state, with results scheduled to be posted on November 15.
Turnbull addressed members of the Liberal and National parties during the rally, asking them to “be honest with each other” and ask themselves whether gay marriage actually poses any kind of threat to traditional marriages.
“I am utterly unpersuaded by the proposition that my marriage to Lucy, 38 years long next March, or indeed any marriage, is undermined by two gay men or two gay women setting up house down the road, whether it is called a marriage or not," Turnbull said, adding that the right to nontraditional marriages is already legal in 23 different countries.
“In any one of those nations, has the sky fallen in? Has life as we know it come to a halt? Has traditional marriage as we know it been undermined? The answer is no," he said.
Bill Shorten, head of the Australian Labor Party, who was also present at the gay-rights rally, stated he believes the majority will respond positively to the survey.
“For gay Australians, LGBTI Australians to have to go through a different law making process to the rest of Australians is unfair. If I'm elected Prime Minister Tanya and I will introduce a legislation to marriage equality in the first 100 days,” Shorten said.
As of last week, the High Court of Australia dismissed two separate objections to the voting initiative posed by same-sex marriage advocates.
Some argue that the posting of the non-legally binding survey is a waste of government funds because parliament should simply vote on the issue.