The split between pro-marriage equality groups Australian Marriage Equality — which is preparing for a plebiscite — and Rodney Croome’s new offshoot Just.Equal — which is firmly opposed to one — is becoming very interesting, with Just.Equal’s new campaign against the plebiscite drawing on some of the similar tactics employed by AME. In a letter first dropped to Fairfax, but later issued as a press release by Just.Equal today, one of the Yes campaigners in the Ireland referendum on marriage equality has asked MPs to consider dropping the proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

While AME has Tiernan Brady from the Yes Equality group in Ireland on hand to talk all about how a respectful debate can be held, Yes Equality campaign co-director Grainne Healy has told MPs in the letter that while the group was delighted to be able to achieve equality, the referendum campaign in Ireland was “a brutal affair” that was deeply hurtful for LGBTI families, and full of “untruths and ill-informed hate speech” on TV and radio during the campaign.

It was so bad, she says in the letter, that volunteers door-knocking for the Yes campaign were offered counselling afterwards, upset over negative comments made to them during the campaigning.

“It was a gruelling experience, [but] at least we knew that at the end of it, if we won, we would have full constitutional equality for LGBT marriage rights. To hold a non-binding plebiscite seems to be at the least insensitive to the LGBT community who will bear the brunt of the negative campaigning and at best will lead to an experience of divisive, hurtful campaigning, with no guarantee of progressing marriage equality.”

So far, Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch remain opposed to the plebiscite, so campaigners against the plebiscite are still somewhat hopeful the matter can be resolved via a free vote in Parliament rather than a $160 million plebiscite.

Peter Fray

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