Bill for public vote on same-sex marriage introduced in Australia

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A bill to call for a public vote on same-sex marriage has been introduced in Australia.

The country’s Senate was presented with a bill for a plebiscite on the issue.

The introduction of the bill has led to a parliamentary inquiry into whether a public vote could coincide with the next federal election.

If the bill was adopted, the question would be asked:  “Do you support Australia allowing marriage between two people regardless of their gender?”

It is to be investigated by the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs references committee.

A response is expected on 16 September on the bill, sponsored by crossbench senators Janet Rice, Glenn Lazarus, David Leyonhjelm, Jacqui Lambie, Ricky Muir and Nick Xenophon.

It is unlikely that the bill will succeed, as the Labor Party, which is in support of a Parliamentary resolution to the issue, is likely to oppose it.

Labour leader Bill Shorten told his MPs: “The government wants to plunge this nation into a divisive debate to conduct a taxpayer-funded opinion poll to tell us all what we already know.”

Tony Abbott supports a plebiscite or referendum after the next election.

“When you are talking about what its supporters would say is a very big social advance, I think we should be prepared to facilitate a people’s choice,” the Prime Minister said on Monday.

“I think they are looking for the politicians to trust them with a choice of this magnitude.”

An Australian MP last week voiced opposition to a public vote on same-sex marriage, saying if Parliament can’t decide on the issue, the country could be run by Survey Monkey polls.

A number same-sex marriage bills are heading to the Australian Parliament this month – but Abbott – a strong opponent of same-sex marriage – has banned his coalition MPs from voting in favour.

It was confirmed last Tuesday that Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s ruling coalition voted by 66 to 33 in favour of banning coalition MPs from voting for equality – ordering them to follow party line and oppose same-sex marriage.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has slammed Mr Abbott for his position on the issue.

Mr Shorten reacted: “Millions of Australians will have woken up this morning bitterly disappointed with Tony Abbott.”

“The choice in this country is clear – you either have Tony Abbott or you have marriage equality, you can’t have both.”

Following the revelation, Labor MP Tim Watts tossed out his carefully prepared speech to lay into the government.

Meanwhile, Warren Entsch’s Private Member’s Bill to legalise same-sex marriage has been introduced, and is expected to be debate in a month’s time.