Marriage equality advocates in Australia have welcomed a new draft national anti-discrimination law.

It aims to protect gay Australians from unfair treatment in employment and services.

Campaigners have also called on the government to extend its commitment towards ending discrimination from within the country’s Marriage Act.

In September, Australia’s Parliament voted down a proposed equal marriage bill and its hoped the current plans on tackling workplace discrimination can help in the fight for marriage equality.

Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Rodney Croome, said:

“Australians are against discrimination including discrimination in marriage.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to ending discrimination against Australians in same-sex relationships and call on it to extend that commitment to ending discrimination in the Marriage Act.”

“The government should lead by example, respecting the same standards of fair and equal treatment that it expects the community to uphold.”

Mr Croome said an important first step would be for the government to recognise overseas same-sex marriages, which are not currently recognised under Australian law.

He added: “The draft anti-discrimination law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of ‘relationship status’ and we believe that principle should extend to legally recognising overseas same-sex marriages in Australia.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has staunchly opposed supporting equal marriage rights for gay couples.