NEWS

Same-Sex Marriage: 'Yes' Victory In Sight In Australia

The battle to delay a bill has been joined.

11/11/2017 23:08 SAST | Updated 11/11/2017 23:08 SAST
David Gray / Reuters
A marcher holds aloft a sign while participating in a marriage equality march in central Sydney, Australia, October 21, 2017.

On Wednesday next week we get to find out if Australians want their neighbours to have the same right to marry their loved ones as everyone else.

After six weeks of compassion and aggression, Australia's social future will be decided when the Australian Bureau of Statistics returns the results of the government's controversial same-sex marriage survey.

Or so you'd think. While almost 80 percent of eligible voters have returned their ballots, forces are already marshalling to further delay moves to make Australia the 25th nation to allow same-sex marriage.

Wrapped in the seemingly endless citizenship debate, MPs opposed to same sex marriage -- such as South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi -- are using it as cover to try and delay any legislation.

"I hope that the people will respect the result, not withstanding we are going to have differences about the shape of any bill that goes forward," he told the Australian, praising the survey as a "pretty positive" experience for the country.

He has allies in former colleagues.

Abetz told the Guardian Australia a cross-party marriage equality bill drafted by Dean Smith is "not an acceptable starting point," further describing it as "seriously inadequate, as parents, freedom of speech and religious freedom, along with conscientious objection, all need full protection".

Meanwhile Liberal backbencher Ian Goodenough -- a 'No' supporter -- has revealed to SBS he is among "probably more than a dozen" members working on an alternative bill.

It may come to a head before the results are known, with Liberal MP Trevor Evans expected to raise the need to support Smith's bill in the Liberal Party room.

Smith was optimistic earlier this week, telling the ABC on Thursday he believed his bill could be moved as early as next week.

Almost two-thirds of Australians now support equal marriage, parenting and employment rights for same-sex couples, compared to 38 per cent in 2005, Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) report from the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Institute showed earlier this week.

It's those kind of figures -- as well a battery of private polling showing 'yes' is ahead -- that has campaigners optimistic.

Celebrations are already being planned in major cities, with a picnic and viewing party to herald in the results planned in Sydney's Prince Alfred Park from 9am on Wednesday along with prominent 'yes' campaigners.

"This will be one of the most important moments for our community, so it's important that we come together to support each other and hopefully celebrate with each other too," Equality Campaign Co-Chair Alex Greenwich said in a statement.

"This has been a campaign of millions of conversations about real people's lives. It's about our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, colleagues, neighbours and teammates."