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Marriage bills move forward in Australia and New Zealand

Bills to legalize same-sex marriage have passed their first votes in the New Zealand Parliament and the Australian state Tasmanian Parliament
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings

Bills to legalize same-sex marriage have been successful in their first votes in both the Tasmanian and New Zealand parliaments, with Tasmania also voting to legalize surrogacy arrangements and New Zealand set to vote on a bill to legalize adoption by same-sex couples.

A same-sex marriage bill passed in a vote of 80-40 in the New Zealand Parliament and will now be examined by a select committee before returning for another vote.

MPs from all of New Zealand political parties except the anti-immigration New Zealand First party voted for the bill.

Only two members of the opposition New Zealand Labor Party voted against the bill and 29 MPs from the ruling New Zealand National Party.

The news comes alongside an announcement that the New Zealand Parliament will soon debate a bill allowing couples in same-sex civil unions to adopt children.

Currently only heterosexual married or de facto couples and single people regardless of sexuality can adopt in New Zealand.

The adoption bill by NZ Labour’s Jacinda Ardern will mean gays and lesbians will be able to co-adopt their partners’ children or adopt as couples.

Later in the day the Australian state of Tasmania passed legislation to regulate surrogacy arrangements and held its first vote on a marriage equality bill.

Under the new rules, a surrogate must be over 25 years and must have had children of her own before entering into a surrogacy arrangement.

The move will benefit both infertile heterosexuals and same-sex couples and its passing bodes well for the eventual success of the same-sex marriage bill in the Tasmanian Upper House, which was passed in the Lower House around 7pm Sydney time.

Tasmanian opposition leader Will Hodgman spoke against the bill and most of his fellow Liberal MPs absented themselves from the chamber during debate, but the bill passed 13-11 all the same.

During debate on the bill Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings said her state had an opportunity ‘to lead the nation.’

‘At the core of this debate is the belief that we are all equal before the law, and where the law prejudices one person over another change is required.’

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