back to top

This Photo Sums Up The Marriage Equality Opposition In Labor

Man sits, everyone else stands, it explains a lot.

Posted on

De Bruyn's opposition to marriage equality matters, because he's the national president of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), which is the largest trade union in Australia.

Also a member of Labor's national executive, De Bruyn is a powerful figure in the right-wing faction of the party. He's a walking, talking representation of the more socially conservative, Catholic elements of Labor.

At Labor's national conference this weekend, senator Penny Wong, who is gay and a long-time same-sex marriage advocate, took to the stage to talk about marriage equality.

ADVERTISEMENT

Wong was briefly brought to tears by the warm reception, thanking delegates for their kindness. She went on to give a rousing speech, calling for marriage equality to be won this year.

Meanwhile, pictures of De Bruyn's one-man protest were quickly shared on Twitter.

One picture taken by a Fairfax photographer showed De Bruyn grumpily resting his chin on his hands. In another picture, he suddenly became verrrrrrrrry interested in a piece of paper he was holding. And people didn't react particularly kindly.

If dinosaurs are extinct, how come Joe de Bruyn is still here? #badjokesunday #ALPConf2015

Joe de Bruyn is the most convincing argument in support of rank & file ALP members being given a greater say. #ClosetGrouper #ALPConf2015

ADVERTISEMENT

RT Joe de Bruyn doesn't just look like a cartoon villain, he looks like a cartoon villain rodent

Those photos of Joe de Bruyn looking sad are like oxygen to me

So, why was De Bruyn so grumpy?

On Sunday evening, the Labor conference passed a motion on marriage equality – a compromise struck between the left and right factions of the party.

The deal was to delay a binding vote on the issue – meaning all MPs would have to vote in favour of marriage reform – until 2019. Until then, Labor MPs are free to vote however they want on the issue, despite party policy being in favour.

In return, Labor leader Bill Shorten promised to introduce a same-sex marriage bill within 100 days of a Labor government being elected.

It was a small victory for De Bruyn and other opponents – but Shorten's promise, and the huge show of support for Wong from both factions of the party, makes it clear that marriage equality will not go away.

Some members of Labor's left faction, including members of Rainbow Labor, were angered by the deal. They had hoped to end the conscience vote by next year, binding MPs to vote for the reform in the next parliamentary term.

Senior ABC journalist Chris Uhlmann tweeted that De Bruyn emerged from the negotiations looking pretty darn happy.

A very happy group led by Joe de Bruyn of the shoppies seen emerging from negotiations. So... Labor would not have a binding vote until 2019

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.