The Hon Michael Kirby
The Hon Michael Kirby

The Hon Michael Kirby called on Parliament to achieve marriage equality now.

The Australian Federal Government is receiving continued harsh criticism of its plan to hold a plebiscite on marriage equality.

At a Pride in Diversity luncheon on Friday, Former High Court Judge The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG discussed in a speech why he finds the government’s plain foolish.

He highlighted that a plebiscite on a policy issue has not happened since 1916 when there were questions surrounding military service.

“The High Court has unanimously decided parliament can decide on marriage law,” Kirby said. “We do not need a plebiscite. Our Parliament can act without. And some members of Parliament say they would ignore the result and vote ‘no’ anyway.”

In April, conservative Senator Cory Bernardi said he would represent the “a great many Australians who don’t want to see marriage redefined… as vigorously as I possibly can,” and that he plans to “go into this with a mind that is open to the Australian people saying that we don’t want to redefine marriage.”

The condemnation of the plebiscite is being echoed across the country. Kirby reiterated what many others have said: “We should speak out strongly against this expensive, divisive and unnecessary plebiscite,” he said.

He also called on Parliament to “act decisively to achieve marriage equality for all Australia’s citizens now.”

Kirby mentioned a woman he encountered recently at a marriage equality event. He told the audience that she had said marriage equality is not just about the LGBTIQ community, but also about individual Australians.

“This is about my country. This is about the values of Australia, about our attitude to minorities – and whether we are becoming a braver, bolder, more inclusive country,” Kirby quoted the woman.

He concluded his speech with this encounter, emphasising the enduring and tangible importance of equality in this country.