Australian Labor Party Supports Gay Marriage
BY Julie Bolcer
December 05 2011 10:45 AM ET
The ruling Labor party in Australia changed its platform over the weekend to support marriage equality, although a conscience vote on same-sex marriage in the near term is not expected to pass parliament.
The BBC reports that Labor backed the proposal following intense internal debate and rallies outside its annual national conference in Sydney. The party also endorsed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s proposal to allow a conscience vote on the issue. Gillard personally opposes same-sex marriage but has been under tremendous pressure to take some action, with polls showing that a majority of Australians support marriage equality.
While gay rights advocates generally hailed the decision to change the Labor platform, parliament appears unlikely to vote to change the current law to allow same-sex marriage when a private member’s bill is introduced next year. Stephen Jones, a Labor MP from New South Wales, will introduce the bill.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that even if Opposition Leader Tony Abbott grants a conscience vote, the bill would fall short of receiving the 75 votes necessary to pass the House of Representatives. Abbott has said the Coalition is strongly opposed to changing the law, although he remains open to the possibility of a conscience vote.
The Labor Party also voted over the weekend to remove a legal barrier to Australian same-sex couples seeking to marry overseas. According to The Australian, the party approved a reworked foreign affairs policy to allow Certificates of No Impediment, which are required by some overseas jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal, to be issued to same-sex couples.