The Australian body Union for Progressive Judaism has made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill.

The UPJ represents 26 congregations and communal organisations across Australia, New Zealand and Asia and has more than 7,000 members. Public support for gay marriage in Australia is strong, and the UPJ said they wished to reflect the views of the general populace, stating that they supported the movement “in accordance with the interests and feelings of the majority of Australian citizens.”

In a statement, the body said: “The UPJ fully acknowledges the rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) people in our own community and throughout the world. In accordance with the values of equality and egalitarianism, we believe that the GLBT community should be afforded full rights, equal to all other persons. Accordingly we acknowledge that all people are made B’Tselem Elohim, in the image of God and that each person should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.”

Executive director of the UPJ Steve Denenberg told J-Wire, the Australasian online Jewish news service: “Quite simply we believe that is time for Australian legislation to recognise and reflect the fact that same gender couples should have exactly the same rights as heterosexual couples, including the right to marry.

“Our rabbis and congregations endorsed this view at our Gathering in 2011 and we believe that it is time for our society to move beyond the rejection that has characterised the treatment of same gender couples.”

In Australia, the Labor Party voted last year to change its position on marriage to give equal rights to gay couples and Prime Minister Gillard announced she would allow her MPs a free, “conscience” vote, although she is not personally a supporter of equal marriage rights.

Australia’s official opposition, a coalition of parties led by the Liberals, opposes gay marriage. They have 71 seats in the House of Representatives’ 150 seats, compared with the Labor party’s 72.