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Australia blocks public vote on same-sex marriage

Australia blocks public vote on same-sex marriage

Majority of Australians back same-sex marriage

Australia has rejected a public vote on same-sex marriage, a victory as it could have further delayed rights for LGBTI couples.

The Upper House Senate voted 33 to 29 against the coalition government’s bid to hold a plebiscite on the issue.

Opposition party Labor has said a vote would only trigger a divisive public debate and delay the issue even further.

The plebiscite was estimated to cost AU$160 million (US$123 million, €111 million).

‘The experts have unequivocally explained to Labor that the plebiscite would cause harm to gay and lesbian people particularly but not exclusively young people,’ opposition leader Bill Shorten said.

‘Marriage equality, let’s make it a reality, let’s just get on with it.’

Labor has urged parliament for a free vote on same-sex marriage, an action they believe would lead to Australia passing it by the end of 2016.

A July 2016 poll found 48% of respondents stated they would support a plebiscite. However, this dropped to 35% support when respondents were told the plebiscite was not legally binding and dropped further to 25% when the $160 million expected cost was raised.

Another poll, conducted in August, found 57% of Australians would vote on favor of same-sex marriage. Only 28% said they would vote ‘no’ and 15% were unsure.