Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Friday he would push
for a referendum on gay marriage unless all Australian
parliamentarians were given a free vote on the issue.
Rudd has promised Labor Party members a conscience vote but opposition coalition lawmakers are bound by policy insisting that marriage be between a man and a woman.
"I would like to see this (legalising gay marriage) done ... it causes so many people such unnecessary angst out in Australia, in the gay and lesbian community," Rudd said.
The conservatives are opposed to changing the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to wed.
The head of campaign group Australian Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, said a referendum would be divisive and not achieve a result because a vote in parliament would still be needed to change the law.
"It would lead to fear-mongering against the gay and lesbian community and, either a referendum or a plebiscite, would not lead to a change in the law directly."
Croome said cross-party support would be the key to success, as it had been in New Zealand and France.
Rudd this week replaced Julia Gillard, who shared conservative leader Tony Abbott's opposition to gay marriage.
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