Australian students clash over same-sex marriage debate
People participate in a march for marriage equality of same-sex couples in Sydney, Australia, September 10, 2017. Source: Reuters/Steven Saphore

Students in Sydney have clashed over the issue of same-sex marriage, as Australia holds a nationwide postal vote regarding its legalisation.

On Thursday, a gathering of anti-gay marriage activists was met with a counter protest at the University of Sydney. The university newspaper Honi Soit reported that the Catholic society and Greek Orthodox Society ‘free kebab’ stall on the campus’ Eastern Avenue, with banners reading “it’s okay to vote no.”

There were around 50 “no” voters in attendance at the gathering who were met with chants of “bigots”, reported Catholic Outlook. Meanwhile, Honi Soit reported around 100 “yes” activists showed up.

Local police reportedly “found a large group of students arguing about a stall that had been established on the university grounds. The group was dispersed and there were no injuries or arrests.”

The small-scale Sydney Uni protests followed rallies in Australia’s largest city on Saturday, which saw a record 20,000 people turn out in support of legalising same-sex marriage. Organisers said it was the largest gay rights demonstration in Australia’s history.

“We’re blown away by the response,” Cat Rose from Community Action Against Homophobia said, as quoted by Reuters. “The force we’ve shown today puts us in a good stead to win this battle over the next couple of months.”

The Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten said that it was the law rather than the LGBTQI community that had to change: “we’ve got one last mountain to climb before we make marriage equality a reality. Let’s climb it together, today.”

Superstar American TV host Ellen DeGeneres, who is married to Australian actress Portia de Rossi, tweeted on Tuesday, “let’s do this, Australia.”

The deadline for voters to return their forms is November 7, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics promising an outcome of the survey by November 15.

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised that if a majority of voters support same-sex marriage, then the Parliament will vote on the issue before Christmas.

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