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Malcolm Turnbull - 6th Annual Michael Kirby Lecture

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Published on Jul 12, 2012

Opposition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has advocated for gay civil unions to be legislated by the Federal parliament as a way to bridge marriage equality.

Mr Turnbull made the comments as the keynote speaker for the Michael Kirby Lecture Series, which was hosted by Southern Cross University's School of Law and Justice at the Gold Coast recently.

"Over time as I have reflected on the question of marriage equality, I have found the arguments against gay marriage less and less convincing," he said during the speech.

"I have to say that I am utterly unpersuaded by the proposition that my marriage to Lucy (his wife), or indeed any marriage, is undermined by two gay men or two lesbians setting up house down the road whether it is called a marriage or not.

"Regrettably, this aspect of the debate is dripping with the worst sort of hypocrisy and the deepest pools are all too often found among the most sanctimonious.

"Let us be honest with each other. The threat to marriage is not the gays. It is a lack of loving commitment , whether it is found in the form of neglect, indifference, cruelty or adultery, to name just a few manifestations of the loveless desert in which too many marriages come to grief.

"If the conduct of another couple is likely to undermine the marriage of another, it may because they set a bad example. It one husband sees another treating his wife neglectfully, he may, possibly, be inclined to think he can do the same. If one wife belittles her husband, another may feel she can do the same to hers. That, I concede, is possible.

"But do the bishops seriously imagine that legalising gay marriage will result in thousands of parties to heterosexual marriages suddenly deciding to get divorced so they can marry a person of the same sex?

"If the threat to marriage today is a lack of commitment, then surely other couples making and maintaining that commitment sets a good rather than a bad example. Are not the gays who seek the right to marry, to formalise their commitment to each other, holding up a mirror to the heterosexuals who are marrying less frequently and divorcing more often?"

Mr Turnbull, however, believes there are not the numbers in the Federal parliament to support legislation for gay marriage but he believes there are the numbers to support civil unions.

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