New Australian PM urged to consider introducing same-sex marriage now

Australia’s new Prime Minister has been urged to scrap plans that will keep a ban on same-sex weddings in place until 2017 at the earliest.

Malcolm Turnbull, who is perceived as a moderate, took over as Prime Minister this week after his party voted to oust Tony Abbott – a strong conservative and opponent of same-sex marriage.

As a vote in Parliament loomed last month, Mr Abbott put plans in place for a plebiscite (public vote) on equal marriage. His actions averted a showdown on the issue, but also caused a lengthy delay – as the plebiscite will not take place until  2017.

New PM Mr Turnbull has affirmed his support for the plebiscite, but equality activists have urged him to consider dropping the plans – and instead allowing a simple free vote to go ahead in Parliament.

Opinion polls have found an overwhelming public majority in favour of same-sex marriage, leading activists to criticise the planned plebiscite as a stalling tactic.

It comes at the same time as a Senate report, which says the issue would be best resolved through a vote in Parliament. The Greens added that if a plebiscite is to take place, it should be brought forward and held at the same time as the next federal election, scheduled for 14 January 2017.

Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said: “The Senate report makes it clear that the quickest, cheapest, least divisive and most appropriate way to deal with marriage equality is through a cross-party free vote on the floor of parliament.”

“In the light of this report, we call on Mr Turnbull to reconsider his support for a plebiscite after the election.”

“We also welcome the Greens’ additional comments which say the best option for a plebiscite is for a parliamentary committee to work with the electoral commission to ensure it is fair and balanced, and for it to be held at the next election.”