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Conservatives Try to Sneak 'Religious Freedom' Into Australia's Marriage Bill

15 November 2017

Same-sex couples could be able to marry by Christmas, but first parliament must adopt legislation giving the non-binding vote result the force of law.

A group of conservatives have been working on legislation that would provide strong protections for religious freedoms in the event of a yes vote.

Australia has said "yes" to legalizing same-sex marriage after a controversial two-month national postal survey.

The bill ensures exemptions for ministers of religion and celebrants with genuine belief and allows a limited form of conscientious objection.

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Senator Paterson said he was a supporter of same sex marriage but also believed there was a need for religious freedoms to be protected.

Fellow Liberal Dean Smith also has a private bill ready for parliament.

Results released Wednesday revealed 61% of the population voted to allow same-sex marriage, 38% voted against.

Celebrations are already being planned in major cities, with a picnic and viewing party to herald in the results planned in Sydney's Prince Alfred Park from 9am on Wednesday along with prominent "yes" campaigners. However, if the Labor Party wins the next federal election, we could see marriage equality be reintroduced in parliament.

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Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm is in the process of drafting amendments to the Smith, many of which align with provisions in the Paterson bill.

"They have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality", he told reporters in Canberra.

On Tuesday Turnbull said the government "would not countenance" legalising discrimination against same-sex weddings by commercial service providers and warned a rival conservative bill to do so would have "virtually no prospect" of passing parliament.

Labor senator Sam Dastyari said Senator Paterson was being taken for a ride.

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"That's why it is necessary to extend the same principle applied in other same-sex marriage bills beyond ministers of religion to anyone else directly connected to a wedding".

Conservatives Try to Sneak 'Religious Freedom' Into Australia's Marriage Bill