Same-sex marriage bill clears Australia's
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[November 29, 2017]
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's upper
house Senate on Wednesday passed a measure to legalize same-sex
marriage, perhaps as soon as next week, after lawmakers dismissed a
conservative push to allow religious objectors to refuse service to
Australians overwhelmingly endorsed legalizing same-sex marriage in a
postal survey run by the national statistics agency and the bill easily
passed the Senate by 43 votes to 12.
Conservative lawmakers had pressed for broad protections for religious
objectors, among them florists, bakers and musicians, to refuse service
to same-sex couples.
But amendments for lay celebrants to refuse to solemnize same-sex
marriages and permitting caterers opposed to the unions to refuse
service at wedding receptions were either defeated or abandoned during
two days of debate in the senate, where same-sex marriage supporters are
in the majority.
"The Australian people voted to lessen discrimination, not to extend it
and we, the senate, have respected that vote by rejecting amendments
which sought to extend discrimination, or derail marriage equality,"
Labor Senator Penny Wong, who voted down all the amendments, told
The bill moves to the lower house next week, where conservative
lawmakers hope for a renewed push to add measures exempting objectors to
same-sex marriage from existing laws against discrimination.
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Members of Sydney's gay community react as they celebrate after it
was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage
in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the
country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the
year, at a pub located on Sydney's Oxford street, Australia,
November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore
"I do not think we have made these changes in a way which advances
rights fully," said center-right National Party Senator Matt
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Liberal-National coalition
government and the main opposition Labor Party have said they wanted
to pass the law through parliament by Dec. 7.
If the legislation passes as expected, Australia will become the
26th nation to legalize same-sex marriage, a watershed for a country
where some states held homosexual activity illegal until 1997.
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY; Editing by Clarence
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