The Australian Sex Party, which calls for sex education in schools and is in favour of gay marriage, has performed well in the country’s general election.

The party, known as the ASP, beat several prominent minor parties in the polls, coming within 10,000 votes of another small party, Family First, for the Senate in the state of Victoria as reported by the Herald Sun.

The ASP is now neck and neck with Family First for the fourth place in the national Senate vote.

The ASP’s policies include calling for a ratings classification system for computer games, an end to internet filters, and a national sex education curriculum – which will cover LGBT sex – to prevent “the sexualisation of children”.

Australia voted on 21 August, and gay marriage was a hot issue, not least because Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her opponent Tony Abbott of the centre-right liberal party, have both made it clear they are not in favour of gay marriage.

Ms Gillard, who is an unmarried atheist, said to the Australian last week that her view was influenced by respect for the country’s “Christian heritage”.

Campiagners for gay marriage equality – who say that polls show the majority of Australians are in favour of it – have criticised Ms Gillard’s stance, pointing out that countries including Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Mexico all allow gay marriage and have a much longer Christian heritage than Australia.

At the latest count, it has been reported that Australia looks to be heading for a hung parliament.