Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard refused to change her opposition to gay marriage after New Zealand passed it today (17 April).
The leader of the Labor party said she will not be moved from her stance despite her country having close ties to the Kiwi nation.
She was asked by a member of the public in Melbourne last night (16 April) on why Australia was lagging behind New Zealand when it comes to equality, the AAP reports.
‘I doubt we’re going to end up agreeing,’ Gillard said.
She said while she does not personally support the issue, she would allow her party to vote freely if it came up in government.
Rodney Croome, the national convener for Australian Marriage Equality, said the majority would be happy for New Zealand but ‘deeply embarrassed’ their own country is lagging so far behind.
He said: ‘This will be a game changer in Australia because of the close links between our two countries.
‘New Zealand shows how reform can be achieved when national leaders put politics aside and work together, unlike Australia’s leaders who are still playing politics with marriage equality.’
Croome added: ‘As same-sex couples begin to marry, New Zealand will also show those Australians who are still conflicted about marriage equality that they have nothing to fear.’
The first same-sex marriages in New Zealand will be performed in August.
The new law will also mean that married transgender people will not have to divorce when they realign their gender on official records.