Australians support national referendum on gay marriage: survey

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Gay rights activists hold placards during a rally to support same-sex marriage in central Sydney August 11, 2012. Hundreds of gay rights activists attended rallies across Australia on Saturday to support same-sex marriage. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

The issue of gay marriage has become one of the most challenging for the Abbott government as it strives to strike a balance between its conservative stand and people’s demand. A recent poll has shown that majority of Australians support a national referendum on gay marriage be held before the parliament takes any step towards it.

In a recent survey by The Australian, out of 1,200 people polled, 76 percent are in favour of a plebiscite to be held before the next election. The survey was conducted before the calls for referendum on the same-sex marriage from within the ranks of the conservative coalition party was rejected by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Most Australians said that they wanted an informed debate on the issue, as opposed to the 49 percent who supported an early decision making. The poll was taken last month for the traditional marriage group, the Australian Marriage Alliance, asking people whether they think that the decision should be left with the politicians alone or should be put up for a national referendum.

The opinion was distributed evenly among all groups, those in favour of gay marriage as well as those who are not. Even the Australians who took a neutral stand on the issue sought a plebiscite before the MPs decide the traditional definition of marriage.

Though the prime minister hasn’t yet taken a stand on the matter of a national referendum on same-sex marriage, he believes in keeping it separate from the next year’s poll. Warren Entsch, the Liberal backbencher, has introduced a bill on same sex marriage in Parliament on Monday, which has received support by Malcolm Turnbull and Christopher Pyne.

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