CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s Opposition leader Tony Abbott and his Liberal National Coalition, who are opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage down under, are offering a $200 voucher to couples who register to be married.
The announcement comes in a recent voter’s guide published by the Australian Christian Lobby in advance of the country’s federal elections next month, in which the coalition was asked: “What will your party do to encourage marriage and resilience in couple relationships?”
“The Coalition will provide a $200 voucher to all couples when they register their intention to marry, which will be redeemable on an approved marriage education, counseling or parenting skills service.
“Couples can use this voucher before or after their wedding to choose the service that best suits their needs, be it one which assists in developing communication skills, conflict resolution, financial management, parenting skills, or for counseling services if problems arise in a marriage.”
The party has been a staunch defender of “traditional” one man, one woman marriage in Australia, and Abbott has refused to allow party members to stray from the party line and vote their conscience in any proposed parliamentary roll call vote on any measure that would move to legalize same-sex marriages in the country.
Many in Australia’s LGBT expressed outrage that while the coalition doesn’t support same-sex marriage, it would shell out cash to straight couples to get hitched, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
But a source in Abbott’s office later told the Herald that same-sex couples could obtain a voucher to be used towards “relationship counseling,” since they are excluded from marriage.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, leader of the ruling Labor party, has been locked in a tight election race against Abbott.
Rudd has expressed his support for same-sex marriage and vowed to introduce marriage equality legislation within 100 days if re-elected, becoming the first Australian leader to make such a promise.