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Same-sex marriage could be legal in Australia as early as 2017

Photo: Stefan Postles/Getty Images.

The Turnbull government has promised to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage if it wins the election later this year, attorney-general George Brandis has confirmed.

A “yes” vote by the public in favour of legalising same-sex marriage would result in changes to the Marriage Act by the end of the year meaning that same sex marriage could be legal in Australia as early as 2017.

“The bill to constitute the plebiscite will be introduced early in the life of the parliament… in the event that there would be a yes vote the government would legislate to give effect to the wishes of the people,” Brandis told Sky News on Sunday.

“We believe those who favour, as [Prime Minister Malcolm] Turnbull does and I do, a reform of the law will be proposing that the relevant sections of the Marriage Act which contain the current definition of marriage inserted during the period of the Howard government should be amended to reflect the reality that is the case now in most comparable western and Christian democracies.”

The recommitment to a plebiscite this morning, which could cost up to $160 million, follows the 38th annual Sydney Mardi Gras last night where Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull became the first PM to attend the event.

While Greens leader Richard Di Natale said that Turnbull’s attendance was a “great thing”, he also said that “he needs to back it up”.

“He’s got an opportunity to bring the Parliament with him, a vote on marriage equality, we should have that done before the next election.

“We just need to see now some action. Symbolism is good, it’s good having leaders of all parties there, but let’s back it up with some action.”

Meanwhile, the Labor government is pushing for a parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage within the first 100 days of taking office.

Legalising same-sex marriage would put Australia on par with other nations such as New Zealand, Canada, Spain, France, Scotland and Ireland.

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