Some 62% of registered voters supported gay marriage in an Australian postal survey that ensures Parliament will consider legalizing same-sex weddings this year, although the form any law would take and its allowances for religious objections sparked immediate debate, reports the AP. The conservative government promised to allow a bill creating marriage equality to be considered in Parliament in the final two-week session that is due to end on Dec. 7. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a vocal advocate of marriage equality, called on lawmakers to "get this done this year before Christmas—that must be our commitment." Yet some government lawmakers vowed to vote down gay marriage regardless of the outcome and are already moving to wind back anti-discrimination laws.
Several government lawmakers on Monday released a draft gay marriage bill that critics argue would diminish current protections for gays against discrimination. "We need to protect freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and also freedom of religion," says a spokesman for Coalition for Marriage, which lobbied against the reform. He says his group favors this bill over a separate one introduced Wednesday by Sen. Dean Smith. Smith's bill, backed by Turnbull, rules out any compromise that would cost gays and lesbians protections and permits only churches and ministers of religion to boycott same-sex weddings. "Australians did not participate in a survey to have one discrimination plank removed, to have other planks of discrimination piled upon them," Smith says.