AUSTRALIA’S voluntary postal survey on gay marriage is “not an acceptable decision-making method”, the UN Human Rights Committee has said in a damning report released overnight.

The committee has recommended Australia urgently legislate to make same-sex marriage legal regardless of the poll’s results, which are due to be released next week.

The committee has also blasted Australia’s policies on refugees as advocates warn the stand-off with asylum seekers on Manus Island could turn deadly.

Papua New Guniea immigration officials yesterday gave notice the men had until 11 am tomorrow to leave or they “may” be removed by force.

“The Committee is concerned about the explicit ban on same-sex marriage in the

Marriage Act 1961 that results in discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples, including in matters related to the divorce of couples who married overseas,” the UNHCR report says.

“While noting that the State party is currently taking a voluntary, non-binding postal survey on the legalization of same-sex marriage, the Committee is of the view that resort to public opinion polls to facilitate upholding rights under the Covenant in general, and equality and non-discrimination of minority groups in particular, is not an acceptable decision-making

method and that such an approach risks further marginalizing and stigmatizing members of

minority groups.”

The UN recommends Australia revise its laws “irrespective of the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey” and ensure that all its laws and policies afford equal protection to LGBTI persons, couples and families.

“Australia is drawing international attention for all the wrong reasons,” Human Rights Law Centre director of legal advocacy Anna Brown said today.

“The Committee has rightly criticised the Australian Government for putting LGBTI Australians through an unnecessary and divisive public opinion poll,” she said.

“The UN has tonight confirmed what Australian politicians should already know – human rights should not be put to a majority vote.

“Australia needs to do its job and vote on a bill to deliver equality and dignity for LGBTI couples across the country.”

Australia’s high levels of violence against women, its rate of indigenous incarceration, and levels of discrimination based on race and religion, including attacks on places of worship, were also criticised in the report.