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Is gay marriage coming to Australia?? © N.N.

In Australia's politics and society, the introduction of "gay marriage" has been wrangled over for years – so far without result. Now a "postal survey" is expected to provide clarity. Even though the results are not binding.

Australia's government wants to avoid a parliamentary vote on introducing marriage for same-sex couples. Spending the equivalent of 82 million euros on a "postal survey" for this purpose. But this poses some problems: there is neither an obligation to participate nor a quorum. And the result is not binding on top of that.

Catholic bishops oppose gay marriage

The country's Catholic bishops make it clear anyway that they think nothing of so-called gay marriage. They see religious freedom and freedom of expression in serious danger. "In other parts of the world where same-sex marriage has been legalized, those who believe in traditional marriage are being harassed or forced to adopt the new view of marriage," Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher told The Australian newspaper.

Denis Hart, archbishop of Melbourne and president of the Australian Bishops' Conference, stressed in an interview with "Fairfax Media" that the church expects from its 180.000 employees in parishes, schools, nursing homes, charities and hospitals to adhere to church teachings.

Majority in population and parliament

But according to surveys, there has been a majority in favor of "gay marriage" for years, both among the population and in parliament. However, under prere from the right wing of his conservative coalition government, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refuses to lift the caucus requirement. "Australia could have introduced equality for homosexual partnerships a decade ago," says University of Melbourne sociologist Gary Bouma. "But governments in that period were so fragile that they were vulnerable to blackmail on this ie by a few conservative Catholic and Protestant MPs."

After Turnbull's legislative initiative for a referendum on "gay marriage" failed in the Senate, the governing coalition came up with the idea of a "postal survey". The question that Australians face between 12. September and 7. The question on the November ballot is now: "Should a change in the law make marriage possible for same-sex couples??"

Among Australian Catholics, opinions below the bishop level appear to be more moderate. Suzanne Greenwood, head of the major health care provider Catholic Health Australia, signaled, for example, that she does not expect doctors and nursing staff to adhere too strictly to church teachings – as they have in the past.

Leaflets in Melbourne

The Jesuit Frank Brennan, head of the umbrella organization of national Catholic charities, spoke out in favor of recognition of same-sex marriages in an article for the British daily newspaper "The Guardian". The problem in Australia, however, Brennan said, is the lack of a bill of rights. For example, religious freedom in Australia was not an "inalienable right of the first order" but was defined in anti-discrimination laws by "exemption rules".

Meanwhile, the battle for the "right" answer is being waged with ever-harsher stakes. In Melbourne, flyers are circulating that say, under the headline "Stop the Fags," "92 percent of children who grow up with same-sex parents are sexually abused. 51 percent suffer from depression, and 72 percent are obese."

PM Turnbull called on citizens to engage in 'respectful' debate. "Our society was built on a foundation of mutual respect," he said – and announced that he and his wife Lucy "will vote yes" in the postal survey.

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Christina Cherry
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