The same-sex marriage plebiscite dominated discussion during a heated Q&A program on Monday night, with author and actor Magda Szubanski clashing with Nationals senator Fiona Nash over her support for the vote.
Szubanski, who identifies as gay, questioned whether Senator Nash believes Szubanski is her equal and should have the right to marry.
“My view is still the traditional view of marriage,” Senator Nash said.
“I completely respect your view and your desire to see that as equality, others have a different view.”
“But you won’t give me my rights? Thanks for nothing,” Szubanski replied.
Rock icon Jimmy Barnes, whose granddaughter is Magda Szubanski’s goddaughter, also locked horns with Senator Nash, describing her view that Australia could have a civil marriage debate “naive” and “really dumb”.
“I have friends who lived in Ireland and it was very, very ugly debate… it got really below the belt,” Barnes said.
“I don’t think we want to put children and families through that.”
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) September 19, 2016
Plebiscite not about equality
Both Szubanski and Barnes argued that the harm done to the LGBTQI community would greatly outweigh any benefits of the non-binding vote, with Szubanski drawing on her own experience with suicidal thoughts as a teenager.
“As an LGBTQI person, you’re a minority of one, within your own family. It is such a precarious feeling,” she said.
But Senator Nash said she believed the media was able to ensure the debate is kept positive.
“They have a lot of power and a lot of responsibility to lead this debate in the way we all want to see it head,” she said.
Earlier, Labor MP Tony Burke suggested Labor would oppose the plebiscite after the party meets to discuss the issue.