A bill to legalise same-sex marriage in the Australian state of New South Wales has failed in a narrow vote of 19 to 21.

Members of the State Legislative Council voted against allowing New South Wales to become the second Australian state to legalise marriage rights for same-sex coupes.

The news came after ABC released a poll showing that 53% of state voters supported equal marriage.

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said: “Even though the question was about keeping marriage in its current form rather than about allowing same-sex couples to marry, the result still showed majority support for reform.

“This indicates a high level of awareness among ordinary Australians about the discrimination inherent in current Australian marriage law.

“Particularly pleasing is that 40% of Australians, including almost 60% of young Australians, strongly disagree that marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples.”

However, Mr Croome said the bill’s defeat showed the potential for what could be done with a different approach to reformation.

He added: “The fact the New South Wales vote was so close and that it had unprecedented support from Coalition members is due to cross-party cooperation and a Coalition conscience vote.

“New South Wales has shown what the path forward at a national level should be.”

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced after resuming office in June that he intended to hold a national referendum on same-sex marriage.

However, Rudd lost the general election in September, dashing the hopes of Australia introducing same-sex marriage.

In October, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) became Australia’s first state to introduce marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Earlier this month, it was announced there would be a legal challenge against ACT’S same-sex marriage law which would be heard in the country’s High Court less than a week before the first weddings are due to take place.

According to a survey by an equal marriage advocacy group, over a thousand Australian gay and lesbian couples are to travel to New Zealand in order to get married, which could boost the New Zealand economy by around £472 million, they estimated.