3 Nov 2015

Australian Foreign Minister backs same-sex marriage

3:20 pm on 3 November 2015

Australian marriage equality advocates have welcomed an endorsement by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who says she has "absolutely no concerns" about same-sex unions.

World Humanitarian Summit Pacific Consultation. Hon. Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia

Julie Bishop says Australians should get to vote on the issue Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The Cabinet minister had previously kept her views private, declining to comment on her personal stance.

But she told Channel Ten she supported the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry, as well as a proposal to hold a plebiscite - a type of referendum - on the issue.

"I have absolutely no concerns about it myself, but I know there a lot of people who are deeply concerned about the issue," Ms Bishop said.

"That's why I think a plebiscite, where the Australian people get to have a vote on it, on an issue as fundamental as this, that goes to the very composition of our community, the way we feel about each other, how we treat each other.

"I think the Australian people should have their say."

Ms Bishop had previously hinted that she supported the idea of same-sex marriage, but had not expressed a firm view on the issue.

Rodney Croome from Australian Marriage Equality welcomed the statement, claiming Ms Bishop's influence and popularity would be vital to the campaign.

"I think her support for marriage equality will be quite significant," Mr Croome said.

"It will mean other members of the Liberal Party will be more likely to vote in favour, and I think if it's put to the people, then we'll see more Australians in support of the reform, because of the support of Ms Bishop.

"It shows the campaign for equality is working and momentum for reform is unstoppable."

Mr Croome claimed only seven more votes would be needed for a parliamentary vote on the legalisation of same-sex marriage to be successful.

It follows a pledge by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to push ahead with a plebiscite on same-sex marriage following the next federal election.

The Federal Opposition says the issue should be resolved by Parliament instead, claiming a plebiscite would be expensive and could lead to the airing of extreme views from those against the proposal.