Australian PM promises same-sex marriage vote if re-elected

Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull has promised a vote before the end of the year.

Australia’s prime minister has promised a referendum on legalising same-sex marriage will be held this year if his government is re-elected.

Australia holds its elections on July 2, with the latest opinion poll showing the ruling Liberal-led coalition and Labour neck-and-neck.

As the hotly contested vote approaches, Turnbull has insisted the he is in favour of a referendum on the issue of same-sex marriage, rather than a parliamentary vote.

“We have a very clear policy which is that every Australian will get a vote on the subject,” Turnbull – the first sitting Australian leader to attend the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade – told reporters.

“Of course, if we are successful on July 2, then I have every expectation that the parliament will swiftly legislate for a plebiscite and a plebiscite will be held shortly after parliament resumes, which I would assume to be in August.

“So I would hope that the plebiscite could be held before the end of the year.”

However, the Labour opposition has called the plan “a taxpayer-funded platform for homophobia”.

The party has instead pledged to hold a parliamentary vote to change the Marriage Act within 100 days if it wins office.

It has suggested a plebiscite could unleash hateful advertising and expose children of gay parents to negative messages.

“In modern Australia, no one should have to justify their sexuality or their love, to anyone else,” Labour Leader Bill Shorten warned.

“And instead of sitting in judgment, instead of providing a taxpayer-funded platform for homophobia, we will gift every Australian an equal right in respect of love. Nothing less.”

Turnbull is seen as a lukewarm supporter of equal marriage and his party remains deeply divided on LGBT issues.

The PM also came under fire for gutting a sex education campaign of much of its LGBT content, after a campaign led by right-wing Christian MPs who claimed it was “brainwashing”.