Australian Senate rejects public vote on gay marriage

Australian Senate rejects public vote on gay marriage

CANBERRA, Australia – The Associated Press
Australian Senate rejects public vote on gay marriage

AFP photo

Australia’s upper house of parliament, or the Senate, has rejected a government plan to hold a public vote on recognizing gay marriage.

The Senate voted by a margin of 33 to 29 late Nov. 7 against the non-binding public plebiscite on same-sex marriage which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative government had planned to hold on Feb. 11.

Marriage equality opponents had supported the plan while most gay marriage advocates had opposed it, warning it would spark a divisive public debate.

A lesbian opposition senator Penny Wong had argued against the vote, telling parliament it would denigrate her family.

Most marriage equality advocates want Parliament to decide the issue without a public vote. The government has yet to say whether it will allow lawmakers to decide whether same-sex marriages will be recognized.

Gay rights advocates on Nov. 8 welcomed the Senate’s decision and called on Parliament to legislate for marriage equality soon.

Parliament should decide the issue during the current three-year term, said Ivan Hinton-Teoh, a spokesman for the gay rights group just. 

“Clearly in the last 24 hours we’ve had a very significant and historic step in the path to achieving marriage equality and that’s to get the campaign of marriage equality back on track to where it should’ve been,” Hinton-Teoh told reporters at Parliament House, Reuters reported. 

“Now that the plebiscite legislation is dead, we again call marriage equality supporters across all political parties to work together to find a pathway,” said Alex Greenwich, co-chair of rights group Australian Marriage Equality.

“It’s time our parliamentarians found a fair and dignified pathway that ensures every Australian is treated equally.” 

There have only been three plebiscites in Australian history, two relating to conscription during World War I, and one to choose a national song in 1977. 

Same-sex marriage is supported by 61 percent of Australians, a Gallup poll in August found.