A Labor senator who shares her son with his three fathers broke down in Parliament on Wednesday while recalling her ‘rainbow family’s’ encounter with anti-gay marriage campaigners.
Senator Louise Pratt, who is gay, was overcome with emotion while addressing new laws prohibiting hate speech for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigners in the same-sex marriage survey, according to The Courier Mail.
Despite making it an offence for campaigners to intimidate or threaten a person on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, Senator Pratt told the upper house the laws won’t stop LGBTI Australians from seeing and hearing cruel comments.
The Senator choked back tears as she recalled how her own family was exposed to such hurtful remarks from ‘no’ campaigners during a routine shopping trip.
She shares her three-year-old son Jasper with her former partner – a tans man – and Western Australia Environment Minister Stephen Dawson and his partner, according to the publication.
‘I was down the local shop with members of my own rainbow family, just doing the shopping for the evening meal, when they were handed an anti-marriage equality pamphlet,’ Senator Pratt said.
She refused to repeat the pamphlet because it was ‘too hurtful.’
‘But it wasn’t even about marriage, the quality of my relationship with my partner or the quality of my son’s dad’s relationships,’ she continued.
‘My child should not be subject to debates about his family and his parents.’
Senator Pratt argued that the survey shouldn’t be happening in the first place and ‘the government should not be allowing it to happen.’
The mother was embraced by members of her party after concluding her heartfelt speech.
‘Yes’ and ‘no’ campaigners could face a fine of up to $12,600 if their material includes hate speech or they engage in bribery.
The government on Tuesday night finalised a deal with Labor to pass protections – which was introduced to the Senate on Wednesday – governing the conduct of the survey campaign.
The legislation passed in the upper house before midday and headed to the lower house for a vote.
The bill would make it an offence to vilify, intimidate or threaten to cause harm to a person on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status or religious conviction during the survey.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said there were also provisions for authorisation of advertisements, reasonable opportunity to have opposing views broadcast, offences against bribery and threats and the prohibition of misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to the completion of survey forms.
‘We want this process to be fair and for Australians to get the opportunity to have their say in an appropriate environment,’ Senator Cormann said.
The legislation would be in effect for the period between its commencement and the declaration of a result on November 15.
‘We urge all campaigners on both sides of this debate to express their arguments with courtesy and respect,’ Senator Cormann said.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is aiming to get the survey forms out to 16 million voters by September 25, with the first forms in mailboxes this week.
The form asks, ‘Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?’, followed by yes and no boxes.