PLEBISCITE: Fraser Coast LGBTI+ community raises concerns
MEMBERS of the LGBTI+ Fraser Coast community have voiced their concerns about the planned plebiscite on same-sex marriage, saying it could offer a platform for homophobia in the region and beyond.
The Federal Government has released its plans to hold the plebiscite on February 11 next year, with Labor leader Bill Shorten warning of the potential dangers associated with campaigns against same-sex marriage.
LGBTIQ+ Fraser Coast community member Sally Cripps said almost the entire community felt that the plebiscite was a waste of money.
"Because no matter what the outcome, if it's a yes or no from the country, they still have a vote on it in parliament," Ms Cripps said.
"Why is the tax payer funding such a stupid game? It's not just gay people who should be angry about it, the whole country should be mad about it."
LGBTI+ Fraser Coast community member Fiona Anderson has been campaigning against the plebiscite.
She said she felt the plebiscite was not necessary, and could do much more harm than good, especially on the Fraser and Sunshine Coasts.
"It's a fact that the LGBT community as it is now has a higher level of mental health issues than the average, everyday community," Ms Anderson said.
"Mainly around coming out as gay, problems with not knowing if your family is going to accept you or not as well as your friends and the wider population.
"I see the comments that come up below the articles around transgender issues, the plebiscite and similar topics, and there is a huge amount of homophobia around here."
Ms Anderson said she did not think the majority of people in the region would vote against same-sex marriage, but the community against it would be louder about their views.
"Nation-wide I think Australians are much more accepting, but the community up here; the Sunshine and Fraser Coast communities, they are homophobic, and they will become more vocal," she said.
Ms Anderson said she would like to see the vote go straight to parliament, but the region's federal members, both LNP, say the plebiscite is the best option.
Federal member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the plebiscite on same-sex marriage was part of an election promise, which was now being delivered.
"The purpose of the plebiscite is to enable the people of this electorate, and right around the country, to have their say," Mr Pitt said.
Federal member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien said the plebiscite was the best way for people to have their say on the issue.
"I have seen the results of several surveys on the issue, including those conducted by the Fraser Coast Chronicle, and I believe the best way to determine how Wide Bay and Australians feel about the matter is through a plebiscite," Mr O'Brien said.
"I support the Coalition's position to have a plebiscite enabling all Australians to have their say on how marriage should be defined.
"I know that people on both sides of the debate have strong feelings about the issue and they deserve to have their views heard and respected. I expect that the plebiscite will be conducted in a respectful manner."
The Federal Government is expected to release the legislation needed to host the plebiscite later this week.