REPORT: Liberal MPs have been secretly working on legislation to legalise same-sex marriage

Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage at Dublin Castle on the day of Ireland’s referendum. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Two Liberal MPs have done extensive work on a private members’ bill that would legalise same-sex marriage in Australia, according to a report in Fairfax Media.

The MPs – named in the report by James Massola as Senator Dean Smith of WA and Trent Zimmerman, the lower house Member for North Sydney – have done the work in secret and could introduce the bill as early as August. They are aiming to have it put to a conscience vote, which would practically guarantee its passage through parliament.

This would upend the Turnbull government’s policy of putting the issue to voters in a plebiscite, a route the opposition has blocked in the parliament.

The report says: “It’s understood cabinet ministers Christopher Pyne and George Brandis – both of whom support same-sex marriage – are aware of the existence of the bill, which is designed to end the political impasse over the issue and get it off the political agenda before the next federal election.”

Fissures in the Coalition over marriage equality were exposed again yesterday when it emerged Pyne told a gathering of moderate MPs in Sydney that they were “in the winner’s circle” but had to “deliver a couple of things and one of those we’ve got to deliver before too long is marriage equality in this country.”

He added: “We’re going to get it. I think it might even be sooner than everyone thinks. And your friends in Canberra are working on that outcome.”

After audio of his address was leaked to conservative commentator Andrew Bolt, Pyne issued a statement saying the government had no plans to change the plebiscite policy.

There’s more at Fairfax Media.

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