Majority of UK MPs back gay marriage bill
A draft marriage equality bill passed the UK House of Commons on Tuesday, leading Australian advocates to warn Australia is falling behind the rest of the English-speaking world.
The legislation, supported by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, passed by a large majority of 400 votes to 175.
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Rodney Croome said: "The majority of Australians who support marriage equality will be pleased to see such resounding support from a country with which we share so much, but this will be tinged with embarrassment that Australia is falling further behind and may soon be the only developed, English-speaking country without marriage equality."
"The UK vote also highlights how, by continuing to oppose marriage equality, our Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is not only out-of-step with her centre-left colleagues overseas, but even her conservative counterparts," he said.
"We call on both Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard to show leadership and stop holding Australia back."
Meanwhile Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will today re-introduce her equal marriage bill into the Senate in the wake of the UK decision.
“Australia is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to marriage equality and I will now be reintroducing my bill into the Senate,” Hanson-Young said.
“I congratulate David Cameron for working to bring about this reform and look forward to the day when we see political leadership on this issue in our own country.
“If politicians, including conservatives, in England have the courage to represent their public on this issue, why can’t the Australian Parliament do the same?”
The NSW cross party working group for marriage equality has also welcomed the news, pointing out that citizens in current British civil partnerships will be able to convert those partnerships to full marriage.
“This is fantastic news for hundreds of same-sex couples living in NSW who will soon be formally married,” the group said in a joint statement.
“It also means that same-sex couples in NSW (where one party has British Citizenship) will soon be able to get married in Sydney.”
“The three major parties in the UK (the Tories, Liberal Democrats and Labour) allowed members a free vote on this and proved that when all sides of politics work together you can achieve meaningful outcomes for same-sex couples.”
City of Sydney Labor Councillor Linda Scott welcomed the UK move. “I was proud to vote in support of changing Labor's platform to support marriage equality in 2011, and welcome the overwhelming vote of support for a bill to enable marriage equality in the UK,” Scott said.
“Like Labor, the Liberal Party must enable its MPs and senators a conscience vote on this issue in Australia.”
The UK legislation will now be scrutinised in detail by the House of Commons before being sent to the House of Lords.