Labor Senators Helen Polley and Jacinta Collins (right) during the debate on the Marriage Equality plebiscite in the Senate on August 9.
Labor Senators Helen Polley and Jacinta Collins (right) during the debate on the Marriage Equality plebiscite in the Senate on August 9. MICK TSIKAS

Labor 'bullies' MPs against SSM

SAME-sex marriage opponents in the federal Labor Party have been told to pretend in public to support changing the law.

The party has been accused of bullying to silence members opposed to gay marriage after reports of Tasmanian senator Helen Polley being pressured into publicly changing her stance.

Senator Polley, a Catholic and a "No” voter, told The Australian senior members of the party had told her that her views could cost Labor votes at the next Federal Election.

She said she would not bow to pressure.

A Labor MP who wanted to remain anonymous told the paper they had faced pressure to publicly support gay marriage despite their private views.

Leading No vote campaigner Lyle Shelton and One Nation leader Pauline Hanson have slammed the party for silencing its members on the issue.

"It doesn't surprise me,” Senator Hanson told Channel Seven's Sunrise program. "It is the typical Labor Party bullying that goes on.

"Everyone has a right on the floor of Parliament to speak up and should represent the people.”

Mr Shelton, who represents the Coalition for Marriage, told 2GB radio there were more Labor MPs who opposed gay marriage but were too scared to speak out.

"If this is what a political party will do to one of its own when the law hasn't changed, God help the rest of us if they actually have political power,” he said.

"There's now no tolerance in the Labor Party for anyone who has a different view on marriage.”

Mr Shelton also slammed the NRL for allowing US rapper Macklemore to play his gay marriage anthem Same Love at the grand final on Sunday.

"To have rainbow smoke puffing up - I mean this rainbow political flag represents teaching your children that their gender is fluid,” he said.

"I think Australians are only starting to dawn on what is actually part of this political movement. For the NRL to be part of that is disappointing.”

Senator Polley refused to reveal which senior members of the ALP had told her to pretend to support gay marriage in public but she said she would not cave in to pressure.

"It would be much easier for my life, in some respects, in dealing with my colleagues to change my position and support same-sex marriage,” she told The Australian.

"There is pressure from outside, there is pressure from friends, from colleagues, from staffers. There are other people, and people who I have respect for, who say: we have tried everything, she is not going to move. I've had all sorts of propositions put to me.

"But I have to be true to the people who elected me, the people who supported me over three election campaigns and still contact me.”

Labor leader Bill Shorten has been outspoken in his support for gay marriage. He has also slammed the government's $122 million postal survey.

- Claire Bickers



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