LGBTI advocates welcome NSW Premier Mike Baird’s promise of free vote on marriage equality
Independent member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich has called on the NSW Premier to continue the support of former Premiers to the LGBTI community, by granting a free vote on LGBTI issues such as marriage equality.
Greenwich called on the Premier Mike Baird during question time, asking for his support on marriage equality reforms. Baird has previously gone on the record in 2012 as being an opponent of marriage equality, but has always maintained his support of a conscience vote.
Baird responded to the question by committing to a free vote on marriage equality legislation, saying his position on marriage equality will be the same as his predecessor, Barry O’Farrell – who also supported a free vote on the matter.
Baird commented: "My Government will not judge people on the basis of race, religion or sexuality. My Government will judge each individual by how he or she behaves and what he or she contributes to the community and those around them.
"Discrimination against any individual or group on the basis of race, religion or sexuality has no place in New South Wales. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community can continue to have the Government as a great supporter. I give the same personal commitment as Premier.
Marriage equality advocates are hailing Baird’s position as a victory and suggest it increases pressure on the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, to allow his Liberal party federal MPs the same consideration.
Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome congratulated Baird on his position and urged Tony Abbott to follow Baird's lead.
"Mike Baird and Tony Abbott share similar electorates and similar values, so if Mr Baird can allow a free vote on marriage equality why not Mr Abbott as well?” Croome said.
Sydney MP Alex Greenwich said he welcomed the Premier’s support for the LGBTI community, and pledged to work to ensure the Premier kept his promise regarding LGBTI concerns.
Greenwich also suggested Baird’s support for a free vote bodes well for the future of LGBTI law reforms.
“From anti-discrimination protections to ending forced trans divorce, NSW Parliamentarians will have the opportunity to show their support for our community in upcoming legislative debates.”
Greenwich also underlined the similarities between the PM and Baird saying the pair shares the same electoriate and socially conservative views, with one small difference.
“A point of difference is that Mr Baird is prepared to show the maturity to allow his MPs the ability to vote for the LGBTI community in important legislation,” Greenwich said.
Baird is not the only state Liberal leader to allow a free vote on marraige equality: WA Premier, Colin Barnett, and Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman also pledge to allow a free vote on the issue.