Australian Leadership Ousts Prime Minister Who Stood in the Way of Marriage Equality

by Stephen Peters

WASHINGTON – Today, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who last month refused to allow a vote for marriage equality in the Parliament, was ousted from his position and replaced by Malcolm Turnbull through a leadership ballot. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised the news and urged the new Prime Minister to take action by allowing a vote on national marriage equality legislation.

“It’s encouraging that such a staunch opponent to marriage equality is no longer in a position to stand in the way of progress for LGBT Australians,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. “We urge the new Prime Minister to stand on the right side of history by moving quickly to allow a vote on the critical legislation that will finally allow loving and committed same-sex couples in Australia the right to marry.”

Last month, Prime Minister Abbott overrode the nearly three-quarters of Australians who believe in marriage equality by denying Members of Parliament the right to vote according to their own conscience on national marriage equality legislation. Prime Minister Abbott met with members of the governing coalition who determined that party members will be forced to vote according to party lines, even if they wish to support marriage equality legislation. Members of his own party support the proposal and were expected to cross party lines if a conscience vote had been allowed.  

HRC has worked closely with Australian Marriage Equality and other advocates on the ground as they fight to make Australia the next country to open its doors to same-sex marriage.  In July, senior-level HRC staff traveled to Australia to meet with activists and advocates, sharing their own experiences and lending their support and advice.

The situation for LGBT people around the world varies widely. As some countries embrace equality, in others, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution, and violence.

  • 19 countries now have marriage equality and in two countries same-sex marriage is legal in certain jurisdictions.

  • But in 10 countries worldwide, same-sex activity is punishable by death, and 75 countries criminalize same-sex relationshipsHundreds of transgender individuals have been brutally murdered in the last year.

  • In a growing number of countries, governments have sought to silence equality advocates and organizations with so-called “anti-propaganda” laws and legislation.

Learn more about how the Human Rights Campaign is taking action and working with allies around the world to make a difference at:

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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