Male, female relationship fundamentally different: No voices heard in Senate


Conservative politicians urge respect for No voters as they flag amendments to the same-sex marriage bill.

The Senate chamber heard politicians advocating for a speedy Yes vote for much of Thursday after the introduction of the same-sex marriage bill by Liberal Senator Dean Smith.

But prominent No voices were also given the opportunity to speak on the amendments to the legislation which the Prime Minister wants to pass in December.

South Australian senator Cory Bernardi, who mounted a robocall campaign urging Australians to vote No, said it was "hard to argue" with the scenes of jubilation across Australia as he congratulated the Yes campaign.

"I accept this bill is going to pass through [the Senate]," he said.

"We don't want to rain on your parade but we do want to protect religious liberty in this place."


He said No voters deserved to be kept in mind as the government prepares to debate amendments to the bill.

Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi
Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi (AAP)

"They're not motivated by malice, they're not motivated by loathing or hatred, they're motivated by a desire to ensure Australia can preserve and protect some of the things that make us really, really good."

Resources Minister Matt Canavan did not commit to the bill his Liberal colleague introduced to the Senate.

"I do hope I can vote for a bill that changes the Marriage Act," he said.

"[But] I have said throughout the debate I cannot, in good faith and good conscience, vote for a bill that would otherwise compromise fundamental human rights."

The Queensland senator indicated he would move amendments to give more protections to religious schools which opposed same-sex marriage.

"Some of those amendments will come from the viewpoint that it's a fundamental human right for a mother or father or parent should be able to decide and determine the moral and religious education of their children."

'I cannot vote for a bill that would compromise fundamental human rights': Matt Canavan.
'I cannot vote for a bill that would compromise fundamental human rights': Matt Canavan.

Senator Canavan rejected views that those on the No side meant ill will towards those who identified as LGBTIQ+.

But he stressed his support for traditional marriage as one that was rooted in his conservative view of the world.

"We should respect the institutions that have stood the test of time," he said.

"There is something fundamentally unique or distinct about a male and female relationship, that does not make it better or superior in any way above a homosexual relationship, but it is fundamentally different," he said.

"We also must recognise that a vast majority of countries in the world retain a definition of traditional marriage."

The Attorney-General, George Brandis, said he would move amendments he believed weren't "strictly necessary" to appease No voters.

"There were a lot of wrong and mischievous claims made in the debate, that were the legislation to be passed, it would inhibit religious freedom," he said in a press conference.

"It won't and I think it's useful to have declaratory statement to that effect in the bill."

Conservative Senator Zed Seselja, who is yet to speak in the Senate, also told reporters in parliament he would not support the bill.

"We need to, in my opinion, improve the bill that's on the table at the moment," Senator Seselja said.

"I disagree with the Attorney-General that one or two amendments would probably do it."

The Senate will need to pass the bill by the end of the November in order the House of Representatives to debate and pass the bill in the final sitting week of the year.

Matt Canavan
Matt Canavan.







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