Aust'n gov't plans for Australians to vote on same-sex marriage laws in February

2016-09-13 01:39:32 GMT2016-09-13 09:39:32(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

CANBERRA, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Australians are set to head to the polls on Feb. 11 to vote on the nation's same-sex marriage plebiscite, while the government is set to allocate more than 5.5 million U.S dollars for either side of the campaign to build a public case, local media reported on Tuesday.

The Turnbull government has reportedly signed off on plans for the public vote to take place in February next year, with the question posed to voter being: "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex marriage couples to marry?"

But according to many outside of the government, the landmark moment has been soured by the condition that taxpayer money will be given to both sides of the "yes" or "no" argument.

The Labor opposition has ramped up its disapproval of the costly plebiscite, which is also expected to require more than 120 million U.S dollars, with deputy party leader Tanya Plibersek saying her party held "deep concerns" over the "publicly-funded battle" for people's emotions.

"The idea that we'll have an 11 million U.S dollar publicly funded battle, when we've already seen the sort of material that's put out against marriage equality, and we've got organisations engaged in this debate saying anti-discrimination law and rules around advertising should be suspended," Plibersek told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday.

Meanwhile on Monday, Labor leader Bill Shorten said a vicious campaign against same-sex marriage could have negative emotional effects on LGBTI Australians.

"A 'no' campaign would be an emotional torment for gay teenagers and if one child commits suicide over the plebiscite, then that is one too many," Shorten told Parliament.

Should Labor decide to block the plebiscite legislation, it might not pass through the lower house, as a number of minor party members and independent MPs are also against the conditions of a public vote. Labor, the Greens and other Independents are advocating for a free vote in Parliament - something which would save millions of dollars.

The plebiscite proposal is set to go before the coalition partyroom on Tuesday before being introduced to Parliament at a later date.

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