The senate has officially killed off Australia's marriage equality plebiscite

Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

The Coalition government’s plan for a plebiscite on marriage equality is dead after several crossbench members voted with Labor to defeat the plan 33 to 29 votes on Monday night.

The Greens, Nick Xenophon Team senators and Derryn Hinch joined the ALP to deliver the already expected blow the Turnbull government’s plan for a $170 million national vote on the issue on February 11 next year.

Senators from One Nation, Tasmanian independent Jacqui Lambie and NSW Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm backed the government, while Liberal senator Dean Smith abstained from the voting in Parliament late on Monday night, having declared his opposition to the vote on the basis that it was “an abdication of parliament’s responsibilities”.

Attorney-general senator George Brandis said the vote will set back a decision on same-sex marriage years, but equality advocates are hoping they can encourage the government to back a “free vote” in parliament so MPs can make up their own minds on the issue.

There are currently two same-sex marriage bills, one proposed by the ALP, the other by a cross-party group, awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives.

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