Australia’s Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has lost the general election and with it dash the hopes of Australia introducing same-sex marriage.

Election officials said with about 65 per cent of the popular vote counted, opposition leader Tony Abbott’s Liberal-National Party coalition had won around 54 percent of the national vote and is projected to win at least 77 seats in the 150-seat lower house. Party officials claim that it might actually secure a 40 seat majority over all other parties.

Mr Rudd vowed to take the first steps towards legalising same-sex marriage in Austrialia if he won another term.

He said his decision to back marriage equality was made after “years of reflection in good Christian conscience.”

Mr Rudd announced his support for equal marriage in May, having previously been against it during his earlier tenure as Prime Minister.

His challenger, Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott remains opposed to marriage equality.

Earlier this week, Mr Rudd became a viral sensation after he was asked by a Christian pastor to justify his support of same-sex marriage.

The pastor told him that marriage being between a man and a woman is defined in the bible. Responding, Mr Rudd said: “The Bible also says slavery is a natural condition – Saint Paul said in the New Testament, ‘slaves be obedient to your masters’.”

After applause from the audience, he added: “What is the fundamental condition of the New Testament? It is one of love.

“If we get obsessed of the definition through a form of sexuality, you are missing what the gospel is all about.”

Voting is compulsory in Australia. Although Mr Abbott is on course to win a victory in the lower house, the senate uses a different voting system and the final result might take some time to emerge.

The economy, asylum and carbon tax dominated much of the general election debate.