Around 2,000 demonstrators marched on the Labor Party’s annual conference in Sydney, Australia, to protest about the continuing ban on gay marriage.

Chanting “gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right”, many of those outside the conference on Friday wore wedding veils and participated in mock ceremonies.

Four hundred Labor delegates had earlier voted to uphold the party’s position on the issue.

Labor promised in its election manifesto to keep marriage for heterosexuals only, although it plans to “recognise” gay couples to make it easier for them to claim entitlements and medical benefits.

Similar events featuring rallies and mock weddings were held in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Last week, prime minister Kevin Rudd said that while he welcomes debate on gay marriage, he will not support it.

He told ABC News: “We are consistent with the policy that we took to the last election.”

He added that his party “fully respects the integrity of same-sex relationships”.

A recent poll suggested that up to 60 per cent of Australians support gay marriage and the Bureau of Statistics announced in May that it would count same-sex couples who declared themselves married in the national census.

Advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality (AME) is calling on Australian expats living in countries with marriage equality to send their support.

AME spokesperson Alex Greenwich said that many Australian expats living in places that allow same-sex marriage have directly or indirectly experienced the benefits of marriage equality.

“We’re calling on Australian same-sex partners married and residing overseas, to send their personal stories to the Australian Senate inquiry into marriage equality,” he said.

“Our hope is that these stories will highlight the benefits of equality, as well as the tragedy of overseas same-sex marriages not being recognised in Australia.

“We also encourage straight Aussie expats living in places with full equality to write in about how the societies in which they live have benefited from marriage equality and how Australia will too.”