Australia: Senator calls for cross-party support of new same-sex marriage bill

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An Australian Senator has called for cross-party cooperation in passing a new same-sex marriage bill.

The lone Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, who took office this month, announced last week that he would shortly introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage, hoping to win broad support from other parties.

He said today: “Throughout history, classical liberals have been instrumental in putting forward the case that led to the major advancements in human rights, such as the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage.

“Once again it is the turn of classical liberals to step up for the benefit of gay, lesbian and transgender people.

“It is not the job of governments to define relationships. For those of you who have a problem with homosexuality for some reason or another, we are not asking for your approval. I ask merely for your tolerance.

“If your private life is nobody else’s business, I ask you to understand that the private life of others is none of your business, and it is simply not your role to impose your views on others.

“I ask that you understand that the liberties you care about should be available to everybody, and that there is no place in Australia for second class citizens.”

Australian Marriage Equality deputy director, Ivan Hinton said: “Senator Leyonhjelm has highlighted how allowing same-sex couples to marry is a matter of individual freedom from undue government interference in our private lives.

“This will carry weight with Coalition members who value small government and personal freedom.

“We call on Tony Abbott to allow the Coalition a conscience vote and we call on Coalition members who believe in true liberal values to come out in support of marriage equality.

“Clearly, there is support for marriage equality across the political spectrum, so we urge MPs from all parties to work together to make this reform a reality.”

The last vote on same-sex marriage in Australia was held in 2012, when the House of Representatives rejected it by 98-42, and the senate by 41-26.

The governing Liberal party has long opposed equal marriage, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott giving his backing to the successful fight to end the brief recognition of same-sex marriage in the Australian Capital Territory last year.

However, there have been some calls within his party for MPs to be allowed a free vote on the issue, with the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation passing a motion earlier this week calling for marriage equality.