Liberal Senator strongly hints at free vote support as equal marriage battle continue in Australia


A Liberal Senator has strongly hinted he would support a free vote in parliament on equal marriage.

Dean Smith, a Senator from West Australia, has joined a number of Government MPs in supporting the idea of a free vote.

Mr Smith had previously suggested he would cross party lines when a vote on same-sex marriage came before the Parliament’s upper chamber.

“I have never supported the plebiscite,” he said.

“I would say to my colleagues that 56 per cent of Coalition voters have identified in a Newspoll, after the detail of the plebiscite was revealed, did not support the plebiscite.”

In supporting a free vote, the Senator goes against his party’s policy of holding a public vote on the issue.

Yesterday, a report by a Senate Select committee examined the Government’s bill and rejected a number of proposals, including the ability for civil celebrants to reject marrying a same-sex couple.

In the report, it recommended creating a new category of independent religious celebrants who, because of their religious beliefs, would be allowed to refuse to marry a couple.

However, it did state this should be reviewed and more clearly defined in order to get a better balance between freedom of religion and equality.

Civil celebrants would have no form of objection and would be required to marry any couple legally allowed to do so.

The inquiry also recommended removing the ability for anyone to reject a same-sex wedding on the basis of “conscientious objection”, stating it was “unprecedented” to allow one group of people to justify discrimination against another.

Government minister, Mathias Cormann, said the report didn’t change the Government’s opinion.

“The work that the Senate select committee did is in the scenario where a plebiscite were to make certain decisions, would have to have certain outcomes,” he said.

Most marriage equality advocates welcomed the news and hoped it raised the chance of cross-party cooperation in this session of Parliament.

Rodney Croome said the report rejected, “proposed discrimination against same-sex couples [and] shows progress on marriage equality is possible when our elected members work across party lines”.

Anna Brown the chair of Australians for Equality told the Guardian the report offered “sensible solutions to address concerns about religious freedom”.

The committee was chaired by marriage equality opponent David Fawcett and included the pro-marriage equality Liberals Dean Smith and James Paterson, Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team.

Recently, an Australian politician claimed that LGBT people were using Nazi mind control to increase support for same-sex marriage.

Something, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was asked about at his Question Time.