By political reporter Stephanie Anderson.
Two bills to legalise same-sex marriage have been tabled in the House of Representatives, where politicians also voiced their fears for young gay and lesbian Australians.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens MP Adam Bandt tabled the separate bills shortly after Parliament began, calling for a vote by politicians in lieu of the Coalition’s proposed plebiscite.
Mr Shorten told the chamber that Australia was falling behind its international peers, citing 21 countries which have already legalised same-sex marriage.
He also cited fears of the impacts campaigns surrounding the plebiscite could have.
“There is a real risk that LGBTI Australians will be subjected to a well-organised, well-funded campaign of vitriol and prejudice,” he said.
Mr Shorten’s comments were echoed by Mr Bandt, who called on Labor to back the bill he was tabling on behalf of the Greens and crossbench MPs Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan.
Mr Bandt said the crossbench was the only “serious” option for legislative change.
“I invite Liberal and Labor MPs again to join as co-sponsors of this bill to achieve marriage equality,” he said.
“If we all work together, we have a real chance to pass marriage equality through Parliament sooner rather than later without a divisive and wasteful plebiscite.
“If we all work together, wedding bells could be sounding before Christmas this year.”
Both bills were seconded before debate was adjourned.
Coalition split over funding for plebiscite
The separate pushes come as a new split opens within the Coalition over funding for campaigns associated with the proposed plebiscite.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis have said that if there is government funding, each side would get the same amount.
Senator Brandis said on Sunday that there was no guarantee there would be funding provided.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott told reporters at Parliament House that there was a need for “proper campaigns” about the proposed same-sex marriage plebiscite.