Politics

George Brandis Just Smacked Down The Hard-Right’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill

"If it’s legally and morally wrong to discriminate against one gay person, I don’t know how it becomes right to discriminate against two."

Just yesterday, conservatives within the Liberal Party proposed a truly horrendous marriage equality bill in an attempt to appease No voters in the event of a Yes result.

The bill included lengthy provisions enshrining dickheads’ rights to discriminate against LGBTQI+ people and refuse them service in a bunch of settings, basically granting people an ability to discriminate that goes way beyond what is currently legal. Plenty of people have criticised the bill for this, but now fellow Liberal George Brandis has stepped into a ring to tear conservatives a new one.

The Attorney General says he does believe any same-sex marriage bill should include exemptions for religious ministers to prevent them from having to marry couples against the teachings of their religion. But he told Today this morning that “the exemption can’t be so wide that it basically throws in the bin the whole of anti-discrimination law.”

He emphasised that the proposed bill enables discrimination that is already against the law — “it’s just wrong and illegal for a florist to say ‘I don’t’ serve gay people’ just as it would be wrong or illegal for the florist to say to an Indigenous person ‘I don’t serve Indigenous people’.”

“If it’s legally and morally wrong to discriminate against one gay person, I don’t know how it becomes right to discriminate against two,” he concluded. It’s one of the pithiest summaries of how messed up it is that people are even proposing such a bill: it’s blatant discrimination, plain and simple.

To be clear, this is not a reason to celebrate George Brandis (and fyi, yesterday afternoon he was saying some pretty cooked things about the crisis on Manus Island). This is less about George Brandis, and more about the fact that we’re at a point where someone in the same political party is coming out to criticise a fellow party member’s proposal as “legally and morally wrong”.

Whether that says more about the depths to which this marriage debate has sunk, or the state of division in the Liberal Party right now, I really don’t know. Anyway, the good news is that in any case, this awful bill has very little chance of passing — in the event of a Yes vote, the Liberal Party have another, much more sensible bill they’re planning on debating. We can just chalk this one up to another truly crappy thing LGTBQI+ people have had to endure thanks to this godawful postal survey. Thank god it’s nearly over.