Australia to introduce same-sex marriage bill this summer

But Tony Abbott reconfirms his opposition to it

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The Australian parliament will debate same-sex marriage when it resumes in August, after a Labour MP confirmed she had signed a multi-party bill on marriage equality last week.

Terri Butler, the MP for Griffith - a suburb of Brisbane, said she had signed off the bill and would second it when it is introduced to House of Representatives on August 11, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sky News Australia has said the bill will be co-sponsored by Labour MPs and high profile advocates for same-sex marriage within the ruling Liberal Party including Warren Entsch and Teresa Gambaro and will be debated on August 18.

Ms Butler said she was “very excited” to second the bill that could bring equal marriage to the country.

She told the local Fairfax Media: “I strongly hope the cross-party nature of the bill will give those in the Liberal and National [parties] who want to support marriage equality the opportunity to do so.”

 

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, whose own draft bill on equal marriage will be supplanted by this one, said he welcome the bill as a “sign of progress”.

He told the Australian he hoped Prime Minister Tony Abbott “will finally grant Liberal MPs a free vote on the legislation.”

According to a campaign group, Australian Marriage Equality, polling show 64 per cent of Australians support marriage reform and 76 per cent of voters for the Coalition government believe Abbot should allow a conscience vote.

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Under pressure: Tony Abbott is facing mounting calls to change his mind on marriage reform as his own sister is one of its most prominent supporters

Despite the move from members of his own party, Abbott has reconfirmed his opposition to equal marriage.

Speaking to reporters from the Australian Associated Press in Melbourne on Saturday he said:

“What happens in the United States is obviously a matter for the United States, just as what happened in Ireland a few weeks ago is a matter for the Irish.

“Obviously there is a community debate going on, I have views on this subject which are pretty well known and they haven’t changed.”

This is despite his own lesbian sister, Christine Forster, being a vocal campaigner for equal marriage.

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Christine Forster (right) with her fiancee Virgina Edwards at the equal marriage rally in Sydney in March

 

In May, she joined thousands of people on the streets of Sydney for a rally in favour of reform.

Forster introduced her fiancee Virginia Edwards and said: "Why wouldn't I marry this beautiful woman as soon as I possibly could?"

It comes in the same week as a member of Abbott's party, George Christensen, was forced to apologise after he compared gay marriage to gun control.

Writing on social media on Sunday evening, he asked if Australia wanted to also adopted America's lax approach to gun control if it wanted to adopt its attitude to gay marriage.

 

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