Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
has promised to hold a public vote on legalizing gay marriage if his
government is re-elected next year.
On Tuesday, Abbott's ruling
conservative coalition effectively killed a proposed marriage bill
when it decided against allowing its lawmakers a free vote.
Abbott vowed a public vote on the issue
if his government is re-elected next year. Currently, the opposition
Labor Party is leading in opinion polls.
“The only way to successfully and
satisfactorily settle this matter, given that it is so personal and
given that so many people have strong feelings on either side of this
– the only way to settle it with the least rancor, if you like, is
to ask the people to make a choice,” Abbott told reporters.
“That means that going into the next
election, you'll have the Labor Party, which wants it to go to a
Parliamentary vote, and you've got the coalition, that wants it to go
to a people's vote.”
As recently as May, Abbott ruled out
putting the issue on the ballot.
Polls show a majority (72%) of
Australians support marriage equality.