Australia’s leader of the opposition Bill Shorten has confirmed he will attend his country’s largest Pride event this year – along with his three kids.

The Australian Labor party politician is a strong supporter of equal marriage, and has been instrumental in uniting his party on the issue.

Equal marriage lobbying groups say there is now a majority of MPs in favour, due to Labour’s stance and the growing number of Coalition MPs also backing equality – but the government continues to block calls for a free vote in Parliament.

PM Malcolm Turnbull is instead insistent on sticking by plans for a public vote (plebiscite), which will not take place until 2017 or 2018 despite public calls for marriages to begin as soon as possible.

However, Mr Shorten is sending a strong message of equality – by announcing he will march in Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade next month along with his wife and their three children – the youngest of whom is five.

He said in a statement: “I’m delighted to be attending this year’s Mardi Gras with my wife, Chloe, our three children, and my Labor party colleagues to show our support for marriage equality,”

“It is time to make marriage equality a reality. If the new Malcolm Turnbull actually did what the old Malcolm Turnbull said, we could have marriage equality by Mardi Gras.

“Labor does not want to see taxpayer funds going towards funding nasty and negative ‘no’ campaigns against marriage equality.

“The time has come for marriage equality, the best way for it to happen is through a free vote in the Parliament.

“If Malcolm Turnbull is too gutless to confront the right of his party, Labor will introduce a Bill into Parliament within 100 days of being elected to legalise same-sex marriages.”

Mr Shorten last month also attended Pride March Victoria in Melbourne.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade takes place on March 5.