Australia's government has voted in
favor of recognizing gay and lesbian unions but stopped short of
endorsing gay marriage, the AFP reported.
Labour Party leaders voted on Saturday
on a watered-down resolution calling for the legalization of gay
marriage in the former British colony.
The amended resolution calls for the
development of a system that parallels marriage for gay couples, but
is not a law. It is being compared to Vermont's now-scrapped civil
union law. Vermont legalized gay marriage this year, leaving
Australians hopeful that recognition of gay unions will lead to the
eventual legalization of gay marriage.
Thousands of gay marriage supporters
took to the streets to protest the move. About 2,000 marched in
Sydney chanting “gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil
right,” the New York Times reported.
“Of course, we are disappointed there
has not been a movement forward on gay marriage,” activist Corey
Irlam told the paper.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd reiterated
last week his long-standing opposition to granting gay men and
lesbians the right to marry. Rudd's government, however, is credited
for approving a raft of pro-gay legislation.
A majority of Australians (60%) support
gay marriage, according to a recent poll.
The issue of gay marriage was a hot
topic around the globe this week. Albania's
prime minister announced on Thursday that his conservative right-wing
party will introduce a gay marriage bill in the fall. Portugal's
Constitutional Court refused
to strike down the country's gay marriage ban on Friday.
Advocates, however, called the split 3-2 decision indication that the
country was moving in the right direction. And Portugal's prime
minister has also promised to introduce a gay marriage bill if
re-elected next month.