Gay marriage supporter Kevin Rudd becomes Australia’s prime minister
Kevin Rudd has defeated Julia Gillard in a snap election of the Labor caucus to become new party leader and Australia’s prime minister.
It comes just weeks after he announced his personal support for gay marriage equality in the country – saying he had previously been a ‘dinosaur’ on the issue.
And he is now facing calls from LGBT campaigners in the country to take action to deliver same-sex marriage equality in the country.
Rudd was previously prime minister from December 2007 to June 2010 but was defeated by Gillard.
Within the last few minutes Rudd won the new election by 57 votes to Gillard’s 45.
With Australia heading to the election, Labor still looks likely to be defeated by the Coalition headed by Liberal Party leader Tony Abbot. He remains steadfastly against gay marriage equality, refusing to even allow his Members of Parliament a free vote on the issue.
But the 102-strong Labor caucus took the widely-held view the party’s support would grow with Rudd back at the helm.
Throwing down the gauntlet earlier today, Gillard had pledged to retire from politics if she lost.
Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said marriage equality advocates will seek a meeting with Rudd to discuss the future of the reform.
Croome: ‘Having a prime minister who supports marriage equality opens up a new chapter in the debate by mainstreaming and legitimizing the reform like never before.
‘Kevin Rudd’s support for marriage equality will be an important point of difference with Tony Abbott, increasing pressure on Mr Abbott to allow a conscience vote and bringing marriage equality to the center of the federal election campaign.
‘Mr Rudd’s stance will also draw young voters to the Labor Party and galvanize the Labor grassroots behind him, given that both groups strongly support this reform.
‘The majority of Australian Christians will also welcome a Christian Prime Minister who represents their support for marriage equality.’
Community Action Against Homophobia are demanding Rudd bring on legislation for equal marriage rights and hold his party to a binding vote to get it passed immediately.
The demand came from Cat Rose who is CAAH co-convener and National Queer Officer of the country’s National Union of Students.
She said: ‘Rudd says he’s had an epiphany since he was last prime minister – well a change of heart is always welcome but the fact remains that he spent several years as a homophobic prime minister who stood in the way of equal rights.
‘He has to make amends and that can only be done by getting equal marriage laws through parliament as a matter of urgency. Whatever else is before parliament, a significant step forward for civil rights has to take priority.
‘The majority of Australians have been years ahead on this issue, we’ve only been waiting for parliament to catch up. It is a huge thing to have for the first time a prime minister who supports equal marriage rights – to not act would make Rudd a waste of space.’
He admits within his family he has: ‘Long been regarded as the Last of the Mohicans on this one. The kids have long thought I’m an unreconstructed dinosaur for not supporting marriage equality legislation.’
In September, Rudd was against legalizing same-sex marriage in a parliamentary conscience vote.
But following a chat with an unnamed former political staff member, who revealed he was gay and that he had told his pastor he would like to get married one day to ‘another bloke’, Rudd began to reflect on his own Christian views on gay and lesbian marriage.
And he said: ‘I have come to the conclusion that church and state can have different positions and practices on the question of same-sex marriage. I believe the secular Australian state should be able to recognize same-sex marriage.’
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