Australia upholds gay marriage ban by wide margin

Australia upholds gay marriage ban by wide margin

Australian lawmakers have overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have legalized gay marriage.

The House of Representatives voted 98-42 against the legislation on Wednesday. It was the first of four bills introduced to Parliament that aim to lift the country’s ban on same-sex marriages.

A separate bill was also being debated in the Senate on Wednesday.

Polls show that most Australians support gay marriage. But the Liberal Party-led conservative opposition coalition and many in the ruling center-left Labor Party are against it.

Australian law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Labor lifted its long-standing opposition to gay marriage last year, but Prime Minister Julia Gillard remains opposed to it.