Same-sex marriage bill introduced in Australia

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A bill to allow same-sex couples to marry has been introduced in Australia by a Liberal Democrat Senator.

The Freedom to Marry Bill was introduced by David Leyonhjelm.

It is a private senator’s bill, and intends to allow all Australians to marry irrespective of “sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Similar to legislation in other countries, it allows religious and civil celebrants outside of the government the choice to refuse to marry gay and lesbian couples.

“The state is a wonderful servant but a terrible master,” he said.

“The state cannot discriminate, and if it does so, that is an abuse of power.”

Leyonhjelm said he was advised against introducing the bill by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who said it would cause too much trouble for hte government.

MPs from the Labor Party have been allowed a conscience vote on the issue of same-sex marriage.

But Leyonhjelm aims to build up enough support for the bill to pass into law, before bringing it forward for debate.

Same-sex marriage advocates were disappointed last month when the bill was stalled.

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.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a staunch opponent of equal marriage, despite overwhelming public support for the measure and calls from some of his MPs for a free vote on the issue.

Debate on the bill was adjourned.