AUSTRALIA: Senate Rejects Marriage Referendum, Calls For Free Vote In Chamber By Year’s End

Australia’s Senate today voted against holding a public referendum on same-sex marriage, instead calling for a free vote in their chamber by the end of the year. Gay News Network reports:

Greens senator Robert Simms (pictured) introduced the motion. Simms is the Greens spokesperson on LGBTI issues and marriage equality. “Momentum continues to build for marriage equality in this country,” Simms said. “Today the Australian Senate rejected a divisive and costly plebiscite and instead called on the Prime Minister to grant a free vote on marriage equality.” “Australians don’t want another opinion poll on this issue. They want the Parliament to legislate.” The motion passed “on the voices” with no precise count taken of who was for or against but a clear majority was in favour of the motion. The Senate’s decision will be communicated to the House of Representatives – although MPs in the lower house are not bound to follow the recommendations of the Senate.

Recently elected Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, long a same-sex marriage advocate, infuriated many supporters when he backed a public vote shortly after taking office.