A motion in the Australian Senate to grant single people and same-sex couples access to fertility treatment has been defeated by a coalition of left and right.

The opposition Labour party voted with John Howard’s government to defeat the measure proposed by Green Senator Kerry Nettle by 51 votes to eight.

She wanted the federal government to work with the states and territories to give IVF and adoption rights to all people regardless of their sexuality.

Last June the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) leader John Stanhope accused coalition senators of “shamefully and explicitly” endorsing second-class citizenship after failing to protect the Civil Unions Bill in the Senate, the remaining hope for the legislation to be passed.

The ACT’s local assembly had approved the bill giving same sex couple’s the right to a civil union after watering down the law to ensure it did not represent marriage, but the Federal Government quashed the law.

Mr Stanhope said:

“They abandoned 320,000 of their fellow Australians and they rubber-stamped the Prime Minister’s own disgraceful disenfranchisement of the people of the ACT, rendering the rights of Canberrans second-class rights, the democratic entitlements of Canberrans second-class entitlements.”

Prime Minister John Howard said, “We are not prepared to accept something which is a plain attempt to equate civil unions with marriage.”