Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten Monday (1 June) introduced legislation to legalize gay marriage.
The private member’s bill would replace the words ‘man and woman’ with ‘two people.’
‘It is time. The right time to make marriage equality a reality,’ the Labor party leader told the lower house.
Shorten said his legislation sent the following message to young LGBTI Australians, two out of five, he noted, have thought about self-harm or suicide: ‘We are proud of you, for who you are. You belong.’
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said she was ‘delighted’ to second the bill before the debate was adjourned.
Shorten rejected calls by the Green party to wait until cross-party support had been secured.
‘If (leader) Richard Di Natale is waiting for Tony Abbott to support marriage equality it won’t happen,’ he said.
Shorten said if the prime minister allowed Liberal MPs a free vote, gay marriage would be law this year.
But Abbott said his priority was the budget and only a handful of Liberal MPs attended the debate.
‘I accept that same-sex marriage is a significant issue,’ he said on Monday.
‘But frankly, this government’s absolute fundamental priority in the budget session of Parliament is to get the most urgent budget measures through.’
Shorten’s bill is the third gay marriage bill before parliament. The Greens and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm have introduced similar bills in the senate.