Australia: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledges to introduce equal marriage if reelected

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd has promised to allow a full conscience vote on equal marriage, should be be re-elected in next month’s election.

Mr Rudd pledged to introduced the measure within a hundred days of office, calling the measure a “mark of decency”, during a debate with Conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott, who vocally opposes equal marriage.

Despite that, Mr Rudd also called on Mr Abbott to do the same, and allow a vote on the issue.

“I support marriage equality, I believe this is a mark of decency to same sex couples across the country and for that to be formalised,” Rudd said.

“We will allow a full conscience vote, I would appeal to Mr Abbott to do the same,” he continued.

On the issue, Mr Abbott chose to divert the focus of the debate to the economy.

“It’s a very important issue, I know how important an issue it is, but it’s not the only important issue,” he said, saying his priority was “cost of living pressure”.

Mr Rudd announced his support for equal marriage in May, having previously been against it.

Back in June, just one day after being sworn in, the Prime Minister  announced his intentions to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage unless a free vote is held.

Following a leadership ballot, Mr Rudd took over the role from Julia Gillard, who is strongly opposed to equal marriage.

Mr Rudd’s support is in stark contrast to Julia Gillard, who said on becoming prime minister in 2010: “We believe the Marriage Act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples.”

She ruled out introducing equal marriage in May following neighbouring New Zealand’s decision to introduce the measure.

Along with Julia Gillard, Australia’s opposition leader Tony Abbott continues to oppose equal marriage and refuses to allow his Liberal MPs a conscience vote.