Australian lawmakers have
overwhelmingly rejected a bill which would have legalized gay
marriage in the country.
The House of Representatives voted 98
to 42 against the measure, the AP reported.
A separate bill on the issue being
debated in the Senate is also not expected to pass.
“I think at some future time our
Parliament will catch up with community opinion, just as it has on
other issues,” said senior government minister Anthony Albanese, a
reference to polls which show a majority of Australians support gay
marriage. “When marriage equality occurs, people will wonder what
the fuss was about.”
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the head
of the country's ruling Labor Party, has said she is opposed to such
unions. The conservative Liberal Party also objects to gay nuptials.
Openly gay Finance Minister Penny Wong
pleaded with her colleagues to approve the bill.
“If you subscribe to the principle of
equality, as I'm sure most in the chamber would, then substitute
'same sex' for 'race' in this debate and see if it changes our view,”
she said on the House floor.
At least two Australian states –
Tasmania and South Australia – in recent months have said they will
push for marriage equality.