Australian lawmakers will once again vote on legislation that would see same-sex couples be allowed to marry across Australia and reports indicate it is likely that MPs from the ruling Liberal-National Coalition will be allowed to vote with their consciences.
Fairfax newspapers over the weekend published articles in which several unnamed Liberal MPs said they believed the party room would decide in favor of a conscience vote – including one who is opposed to same-sex marriage.
‘I don’t think even [Australian Prime Minister] Tony Abbott will stand up in the party room and argue against a conscience vote,’ the unnamed MP told Fairfax’s Heath Aston.
‘It would appear to go against Liberal principles. I don’t think you would find any of my colleagues who would say a conscience vote was a bad idea.’
Newly elected Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm says that senior Liberals have asked him to introduce his bill to legalize same-sex marriage so that it can be examined during the August and September sittings of parliament.
Leyonhjelm had previously said he would not introduce the bill until he was sure all government MPs would have a conscience vote on the issue.
Whether there are the numbers in the current parliament for the bill to pass remains to be seen as the opposition Labor Party is also giving its MPs a conscience vote despite same-sex marriage being party policy.
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome hopes a conscience vote will show who are the supporters and who are the opponents in the parliament as many lawmakers are yet to declare where they stand on the issue.
‘It’s impossible to say if marriage equality would pass right now because too many MPs have yet to declare their hand,’ Croome said.
‘But the Australian public is definitely ready for this reform and we are working with supporters across the country to win over the hearts and minds of MPs and Senators.
‘We are determined to ensure the numbers are there before there is a vote on Senator Leyonhjlem’s bill, or any other bill.’
Australian Marriage Equality have launched a petition on the issue on Change.org which they hope to present to Prime Minister Abbott before any vote his held.
Recent polling found that 72% of Australians support same-sex marriage and 77% support a conscience vote for Liberal MPs on the issue.