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Australia Parliament looks for “conscience vote” on marriage equality this spring

As support for marriage equality hits 72% (Crosby Textor poll) across Australia, elected officials in the country’s Parliament are looking towards a vote where MPs can vote their conscience as opposed to being locked in line with party position.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Parliament is heading for a historic vote on same-sex marriage in which all MPs will be free to vote according to their conscience. The Coalition party rooms are likely to decide on a conscience vote during the coming spring session of Parliament, with one Liberal MP saying it is now ”almost certain” the party will dump its binding opposition to gay marriage. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose sister Christine Forster is in a same-sex relationship, promised before the election the Liberal Party room would be free to decide on a conscience vote.

The matter is expected to reach a crucial stage in the next two sitting fortnights of Parliament in August and September after senior Liberals asked crossbench Senator David Leyonhjelm to introduce his draft bill to legalise same-sex marriage. The government wants his proposed legislation on the notice paper so that it has time to scrutinise the exact wording before deciding which way to go. Senator Leyonhjelm has agreed, reversing his stated position when he announced the draft bill last month. At the time, he said he would not introduce it until the Liberal Party room opted for a conscience vote.