Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has asked Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to call off the plans for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage in Australia. In an open letter he posted on Monday, the Labor politician argued that a poll on gay marriage would just subject the LGBTI community to abuse.

Turnbull had vowed to conduct a plebiscite on gay marriage if the Coalition won. The result of the $160 million public poll, however, would not be legally binding; it would still be up to the federal parliament to vote on it.

Andrews thought the poll would not only be a waste of taxpayers’ money, but also be a tool to propagate bigotry and prejudice against lesbians, gay, bisexuals, transgender/transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) people.

“The plebiscite will hurt people. It will legitimise a hateful debate which will subject LGBTI Australians to publicly funded slurs and denigration, further alienating a proud community who have fought so hard against prejudice for so long,” he wrote.

He talked about the privilege he and Turnbull received when they married their spouses without judgment from the society. This is the kind of privilege gay people aren’t allowed to have.

“In Victoria, equality is not negotiable. On behalf of my state, I urge you to accept there is no need for a costly and divisive plebiscite and agree to produce a bipartisan Bill to amend the Marriage Act within the next 100 days. By granting government members a free vote, you can finally stand up to those in your party room who do not represent a fair and modern country,” he continued.

Andrews ended the letter with a guilt-inducing line, reminding Turnbull that he accused a former Conservative prime minister [John Howard] of botching a referendum in 1999.

“If you fumble at this crucial moment, history will only remember you for the same thing,” he wrote.

Turnbull has proposed to hold the referendum by the end of 2016 or by early 2017.

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