The Australian government has announced
that it will delay a referendum on whether marriage rights should be
extended to gay and lesbian couples.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull vowed
in May to hold the non-binding public vote before the end of the year
if his Coalition remained in power.
According to the Sydney
Morning Herald, the vote, called a plebiscite, is being
pushed back to February.
“The government has always said that
a decision on same-sex marriage will be made by a vote of all
Australians in a national plebiscite to be held as soon as
practicable,” a government spokesman said.
“That commitment has not changed.
Late last week, the AEC [Australian Electoral Commission] provided
advice to the Special Minister of State that strongly recommended
against the conduct of a plebiscite this calendar year.”
A large majority of Australians support
marriage equality, according to polls.
Opponents of the vote argue that its
$160 million price tag is not justified given that it would not
legalize such unions in the nation. However, the government has
promised to abide by its outcome.