Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has remained tight-lipped recently, but now faces pressure to allow federal parliamentarians a conscience vote on legalizing same-sex marriage.
Since Australia’s High Court struck down the same-sex marriage bill, introduced in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), on December 12, Abbott has faced pressure by senior members of his party to address the issue.
Abbott has said that he is personally opposed to marriage equality, and the Liberal-National coalition party have a policy in agreement with his view. Regardless, federal communications minister Malcolm Turnbull said he thought it “very likely” that the parliament would consider a private member’s bill and that the Coalition party would agree to a conscience vote.
According to the High Court’s decision on December 12, only the federal government have the ability to change the marriage bill to include same-sex marriage, meaning a conscience vote is a necessary step towards marriage equality.
Turnbull told ABC Radio on Friday, December 7, that “if you look around the world, you know the big English speaking countries we feel ourselves culturally close to, all of them now recognise same-sex marriage: New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and now about a third of the United States.”
Abbott refused to take sides over current debates within his party to legalize same-sex marriage. When Liberal party member Cory Bernardi called for Turnbull’s removal after he showed his support of ACT’s same-sex marriage bill, Abbott said there is a “certain leeway extended to people” on the subject of gay marriage since the Liberal Party has a broad sense of views.
Abbott’s openly lesbian sister Christine Forster, who plans to wed long-term partner Virginia Edwards as soon as same-sex marriage is legalized, has previously clashed with Abbott due to his opposition to marriage equality.