The Catholic Deputy Premier of the Australian state of Victoria has come out in favour of same-sex marriage.

The Deputy Premier, James Merlino, had previously opposed equal marriage due to his staunchy Catholic views.

But he now says, for the sake of his children and future generations, that Australia needs to legislate for same-sex marriage.

Merlino told The Age that he watched his children grow, and wondered what would happen if one of them turned out to be gay.

“They grow up so fast. In the blink of an eye they’ll be teenagers. In two blinks they’ll be young adults and it has meant, particularly over the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking long and hard about this issue,” he said.

“What I’ve concluded is that if one of my kids said to me ‘dad, I’m gay’, there wouldn’t be an ounce of difference in my love for my child. I would want them to be happy and safe at school; I would want them to find a partner and fall in love; I would want them to get married and have kids. And if that’s what you want for your own kids, that’s what you want for all kids.”

He also defended the Safe Schools Coalition, which aims to protect students against anti-LGBT bullying.

The 43-year-old who is also the Education Minister for Victoria, said it would be “devastating” if the federal Government defunded the scheme.

The Australian Coalition Government is facing renewed calls to call of a public vote on equal marriage.

Previous Prime Minister Tony Abbott had insisted that Coalition MPs would not have a free vote on the issue, and that a plebiscite was the only way to settle it.

However when Malcolm Turnbull took over as Prime Minister in November when Abbott was ousted, he maintained that a plebiscite would take place.

The public vote, a plebiscite, will cost Australian taxpayers as much as AUD$160 million, and could set back the first actual same-sex marriages by years.

This is despite a majority of politicians in Australia now saying they would vote in favour of legislation for equal marriage.

Meanwhile, Mr Turnbull, who is a regular attendee of Sydney Mardi Gras, at the weekend became the first sitting PM to attend the festivities.