Australia to get cross-party same-sex marriage bill in August

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A group of MPs from various political parties are set to introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in August.

The bill specially rules out ministers and chaplains from being forced to perform same-sex weddings.

It will be co-sponsored by Liberal MP Warren Entsch and Labour MP Terri Butler, and could be introduced to the House as soon as 11 August.

It is expected that, once the bill is introduced, a debate will follow on whether parties should give their MPs and Senators a conscience vote on the issue.

The bill is worded in a way which would remove the definition of marriage as “a man and a woman”, and just replace it with “two people”, reports the Australian.

It is supported by a cross-party group of MPs.

Ms Butler told the Australian that the fate of the bill rests with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and whether he allows his party a free vote on the issue.

She said: “The prospects of success depend on what Tony Abbott does. If Tony Abbott offers his party room a free vote, then it has good prospects. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Tony Abbott’s governing Coalition remains largely opposed and continues to hold up progress – and Labor leader Bill Shorten recently introduced an opposition same-sex marriage bill, attempting to force Mr Abbott’s hand on the issue.

Louisa Wall, who pushed for same-sex marriage in New Zealand, said the Australian Prime Minister is “acting like a dictator” on the issue.

It is not clear whether the bill would protect civil celebrants who have objections to performing same-sex marriages.

Over 180,000 people have said they will celebrate the day a Christian couple file for divorce if same-sex marriage is passed in Australia.