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Australia: Same-sex marriage bill put on hold

Anastasia Kyriacou October 1, 2014

Australian marriage equality activists have suffered another setback, after a same-sex marriage bill was stalled just days before it was due to be debated.

Lone Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm – who first announced his plans to push for same-sex marriage after taking office in July – was set to introduce his Freedom to Marry bill this week, but announced he has stalled the measure over fears it would fail, in order to gain more support from governing Liberal and opposition Labour MPs.

Leyonhjelm said the bill would still be debated “in a matter of weeks or months, not years”, but added that he wanted the legislation to achieve as much bipartisan support as possible.

The Senator emphasised that timing was significant, telling The Australian: “Both sides of politics have suggested to me that timing this week is not optimum at the ­moment and if I want to win, rather than just do something symbolic, I need to wait.”

Acknowledging his status as a newly appointed Senator having taken office in July, Leyonhjelm said, “I’ve had advice that there will be a better time for it coming up, so because I’m new, I need to ­accept that advice and I will delay it until the timing is better.”

Director of the group Australian Marriage Equality who are lobbying the bill, Rodney Croome encouraged supporters of the reform to use the delay to phone their local MPs and Senators to lobby their support for the Marriage Equality bill.

The last vote on same-sex marriage in Australia was held in 2012, when the House of Representatives rejected it by 98-42, and the senate by 41-26.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a staunch opponent of equal marriage, despite overwhelming public support for the measure and calls from some of his MPs for a free vote on the issue.

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