Australian PM will accept gay marriage ‘wholeheartedly’ after public vote

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Despite being a staunch opponent to it, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he will “wholeheartedly” accept same-sex marriage if the public approves it with a vote.

Mr Abbott plans to hold a plebiscite in the next term of office, in order to decide the issue of same-sex marriage.

He told 2UE radio on Monday: “Obviously I will accept it wholeheartedly because that’s what you do in a democracy.

“When the people speak on something which has rightly and properly been entrusted to them, you respect the decision.”

He went on to say that he wasn’t opposed to social changes.

He said:

“I don’t say there can’t be change,” Mr Abbott said.

“There are many things that were taken for granted in previous times which we no longer take for granted.

“It’s to our credit we think those things are dead wrong.”

This revelation comes as, despite cross-party support, and opinion polls showing a majority backing equal marriage, Mr Abbott remains an opponent of legalising it.

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.