Gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia: where do they stand?

File image. Source: AAP

Where do the leaders stand on the issues such as gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia? SBS looks at the 'big moral issues'.

GAY MARRIAGE

Julia Gillard and the Labor Party do not support gay marriage and have announced they have no plans to amend the Marriage Act if they are re-elected to government. Ms Gillard has said on numerous occasions that she believes the union of marriage should be traditional: between a man and a woman. Labor Senator and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong is openly gay and she also opposes same sex marriage.

The issue of gay marriage has prompted bipartisan consensus among the major parties. Tony Abbott and the Coalition are also against gay marriage and would not amend the Marriage act. On the ABC's Q&A program on Monday night, the opposition leader said: “I think there are lots of terrific gay relationships, lots of terrific commitments between gay partners, but I just don't think that marriage is the right term to put on it.”

Greens leader Bob Brown has a different opinion on the issue of gay marriage. Mr Brown is openly gay and totally supports the idea that people who are gay should have the right to marry, just as heterosexual couples do. Here are his thoughts: ''If Catholic Spain and Canada and South Africa can get rid of discrimination against people who love each other wanting to marry, then I think this great nation of ours can.''

The Marriage Act currently states: “Marriage, means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life." However civil unions are recognised in the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Victoria. These civil union schemes are only open to residents of the particular state or territory which provides them and are generally not yet recognised by other Australian states or territories.

More information on civil unions

ABORTION

The Labor Party supports a conscience vote on the issue of abortion if it came before the federal parliament. It also believes that the regulation of late-term abortion is a matter for States and Territories.

During his stint as Health Minister in the Howard Government, Tony Abbott made his views on abortion very clear. He blocked the abortion drug RU486 and said: "Abortion is the easy way out. It's hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations." But despite his strong anti-abortion views, he insists as PM he will not change abortion laws and will not ban the abortion drug RU486.

The Greens are pro-abortion and believe that all women should have access to legal, free and safe pregnancy termination services including unbiased counselling. They have also announced that they would implement the National Maternity Action Plan.

Abortion Law in Australia is run by State Governments and their laws vary from state to state.

More information on how state laws differ

The Bill to lift the ban of abortion drug RU486 passed the Senate on 10 February 2006. But since then, it has not been distributed widely as an alternative to surgical abortions.


EUTHANASIA

The Labor Party says euthanasia is a sensitive and complex issue and that members of the community have strong concerns about dying with dignity, compassion and with minimal pain. Labor won't amend existing Commonwealth laws or seek changes to State and Territory laws at this time which state that euthanasia is illegal in Australia.

The Coalition announced that it would allow its MPs the right to a conscience vote on euthanasia, as the matters surrounding the issue are of a sensitive nature.

The Greens are pro-euthanasia, believing everyone has the right to live with dignity. During the Greens' campaign launch, leader Bob Brown called for euthanasia to be introduced for everyone who was interested.

As with abortion, euthanasia laws come under state jurisdiction. Currently in Australia, euthanasia is illegal in all States and Territories. The Northern Territory passed a euthanasia law in 1995, only to have it overturned by the federal government a year later.

Source: SBS

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