Australia’s upper house passes gay marriage bill

Source:AFP Published: 2017/11/29 21:33:40

Australia's upper house senate on Wednesday passed a bill paving the way for the legalization of gay marriage, rejecting conservative efforts to add religious exemptions to the legislation.

The law is expected to pass through the lower house of parliament comfortably before Christmas after most lawmakers agreed to honor "the will of Australians" who voted in favor of same-sex marriage in a recent nationwide postal vote.

"We are a part of an act of acceptance, an act of inclusion, an act of respect, an act of celebration, a day when this Senate declares our acceptance of our LGBTIQ [lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex, queer] brothers and our sisters," said Australia's highest-profile gay politician, Labor's Penny Wong.

"[The bill] says to so many Australians, this parliament, this country, accepts you for who you are. Your love is not lesser, and nor are you," she added.

Senators voted 43-12 in favor of the bill after rejecting calls to extend protections that allow religious ministers to refuse to conduct gay weddings to other services providers, such as bakers and florists.

"The Australian people did not vote to restrict peoples' freedom of speech. The Australian people did not vote to restrict people's conscientious beliefs. The Australian people did not vote to restrict peoples' freedom of religion," said Senator Eric Abetz, a prominent "no" campaigner.

"If we want to have social cohesion, I believe it would have been of very real benefit for [the senate] to have considered some of the amendments," he added.


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