1 Jun 2015

Attempt at same sex marriage bill

1:30 pm on 1 June 2015

Australia's opposition leader has introduced a bill to parliament to legalise same sex marriage.

A renewed focus has been put on gay marriage in the country after Ireland voted overwhelmingly a week ago to legalise same sex civil marriages.

Demonstrators at a marriage equality rally in Sydney on Sunday 31 May 2015

Demonstrators at a marriage equality rally in Sydney on Sunday. Photo: AAP

But without support from the governing Coalition, debate on the bill is expected to be adjourned indefinitely.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's bill proposes replacing the words "man and woman" with the term "two people".

It went before the House of Representatives even though Mr Shorten was being pressured to hold off until cross-party support has been secured.

"The time's right for marriage equality, the debate has been had," Mr Shorten said.

"It should have been sorted out years ago.

"Now is the right time."

Mr Shorten has asked Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow his party colleagues to be free to vote against the Coalition's policy of opposing same-sex marriage.

"Until Tony Abbott allows a free vote, there won't be marriage equality in this country," he said.

Greens leader senator Richard di Natale applauded momentum towards legalising gay marriage, but said he wanted all the supporters of same-sex marriage in Parliament to back a single piece of legislation.

"Having individuals going it alone now, having the Opposition Leader going it alone, would be a mistake," Senator di Natale said.

"It's now critical that politicians put the politics to one side, that the Parliament owns this bill, that the Greens, the Labor Party and the Liberal Party are all co-sponsoring a piece of legislation, a piece of legislation that the entire Parliament and, indeed, the community can own."

Labor's deputy leader Tanya Plibersek rejected the criticism, accusing the Coalition of standing in the way of her party's efforts to take a bi-partisan approach.

"Last week, we asked Liberal and National MPs to consider co-sponsoring the bill that Bill Shorten will introduce today and we are still very hopeful that one of them will do that today," she said.

"What the Liberals and Nationals have been telling us is that they can't co-sponsor the bill, there can't be a bi-partisan bill, because in their party room there's no free vote given on this issue."

"They also say there'll be no debate about a free vote in their party room until there's a piece of legislation before the parliament, so there's been... a catch-22, if you like.

Coalition deputy whip Andrew Nikolic indicated the Coalition would not be giving priority to Labor's bill.

"Our committee will look at that and decide its priority," he said.

"What the partyroom has focused on.... is the economic and national security of our country.

"That's what Australians expect, not things that might or not happen in the future.

Demonstrators including Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young take part in a marriage equality rally in Sydney on Sunday, 31 May 2015.

Demonstrators including Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek (front, 3rd right) and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (2nd right) take part in a marriage equality rally in Sydney on Sunday. Photo: AAP