Australia holds its breath for same-sex marriage survey result

David Gray  Reuters                       A marcher holds aloft a sign while participating in a marriage equality march in central Sydney Australia

David Gray Reuters A marcher holds aloft a sign while participating in a marriage equality march in central Sydney Australia

The draft Marriage Amendment (Definition and Protection of Freedoms) Bill 2017 to legalise same-sex marriage, released by Senator James Paterson yesterday, represents an "extraordinary and perilous" winding back of Australia's anti-discrimination laws under the cover of marriage equality, according to the Law Council of Australia.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed a conservative-backed same-sex marriage bill, warning sweeping religious protections that discriminate against gay couples will have no chance of passing Parliament.

'Australia's anti-discrimination laws were amended in 2013 to enact important protections for LGBTI people in recognition of the unacceptable levels of discrimination.

Senator Smith said he respected the right of "every parliamentarian" to bring legislation and amendments to Parliament, but believed his Bill was the best way forward.

The Paterson bill ensures exemptions for ministers of religion and celebrants with genuine belief and allows a limited form of conscientious objection, and also seeks to protect freedom of speech and guarantee the right of parents to opt their children out of school classes that conflicted with their values.

"The objective of the Bill is clear: it creates equal access to marriage while protecting religious freedom in relation to marriage", he said.

Mr Brandis said parliament would start the debate on same-sex marriage legalisation with Senator Smith's bill, if a "yes" vote is victorious.

Debates are expected to kick off with Senator Dean Smith's bill.

If the result is 'no, ' Turnbull has said it will be off the agenda as long as the Liberal Party is in charge.

"There won't be a government position, there won't be a party position", Senator Cormann said.

The good news is that the turnaround time for the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is going to be quite fast.

It also allows religious organisations to refuse to make goods and services for the goal of a marriage.

The survey result will announced on Wednesday.

The proposed bill has been heavily criticised by supporters of gay marriage with Alex Greenwich, co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality, claiming it has the potential to "divide Australians".

"I think we're all on the same path".

Labor senator Sam Dastyari said Senator Paterson was being taken for a ride.

"It was part of the journey in Ireland [during the referendum on marriage equality], the issue of freedom to discriminate against people, but that debate lasted a couple of hours because Irish people remember what those signs look like".

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