Tasmanian Parliament backs same-sex marriage

Equal marriage activists in Australia (SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Tasmanian Parliament has passed a motion calling for same-sex marriage to be introduced across Australia, despite stalling on the issue nationally.

Australia’s Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has committed to holding a plebiscite (public vote) on the issue after the next federal election – meaning the vote may not take place until 2017, and marriages might take even longer to begin.

In the face of overwhelming public support for same-sex marriage, which leaves little doubt about the outcome of the plebiscite, many have called for a simple vote to be held in Parliament instead to allow weddings to begin much sooner.

As pressure on Turnbull grows on the issue, the Tasmanian Parliament has this week passed a motion endorsing equality – with the support of the state’s Liberal Premier.

A Greens motion on the issue was passed 15 votes to 9 – with the support of most Labor MPs and almost half of Liberal MPs, including Liberal Premier Will Hodgman.

Similar motions have also recently passed in New South Wales and Western Australia.

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said: “I am very proud of the Tasmanian Parliament for sending a strong message to Canberra that it’s time for marriage equality and a strong message to the nation that Tasmania is an inclusive society.”

“I applaud Will Hodgman, his deputy, Jeremy Rockliff, and all those Liberals who have shown courage and leadership by voting for the marriage equality motion.

“I hope those Tasmanian federal members who are yet to declare their support for marriage quality heed the Tasmanian Parliament and take the message to Canberra that Tasmanians want marriage equality.”

He added: “The fact the Tasmanian Liberals had a free vote on marriage equality is a reminder to their federal Liberal colleagues that free votes are a foundational Liberal principle, and that they should do the same when voting on marriage equality legislation.”

“I pay tribute to all those Tasmanians from all walks of life – couples, parents, business people, farmers, sports people and people of faith – who have patiently spoken out in support of marriage equality.”

“Parliament’s support for marriage equality is your victory and your vindication.”