Australian PM sticks by public vote on same-sex marriage as opponents file rival bills

The Australian Prime Minister is sticking by his plan to introduce same-sex marriage via a public vote, and has called on opposition Senators to help ensure it becomes a reality.

The country’s right-wing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has avoided a free Parliamentary vote on equal marriage, instead making plans to take the issue to the public in a non-binding plebiscite to avoid a rift with his own conservative anti-LGBT MPs.

But the proposal is being blocked by opposition parties, who support equal marriage but see a plebiscite see it as costly measure inviting homophobic debate.

Four separate rival opposition bills – from the Labor Party, the Greens and two independent senators – were submitted this week in a bid to introduce same-sex marriage without a public vote.

However,  Mr Turnbull has stuck by his plebiscite plan and today urged the opposition to avoid voting to block the plebiscite.

The PM called on Labor leader Bill Shorten to make sure his Senators don’t vote against the measure, as the government has a minority in the Senate.

Under Labor’s rival plan, equal marriage would go straight to a free vote in Parliament, paving the ways for marriages to begin much sooner without requiring a plebiscite.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said yesterday: “[Deputy] Tanya Plibersek and I have given notice to the Parliament that we intend to introduce a private member’s bill to make marriage equality a reality – without an expensive and divisive plebiscite”.

There are now fears that despite an overall majority in support of equal marriage in both Houses, political parties may not be able to agree on a compromise.