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More Pressure for Abbott

Pressure appears to be growing on Opposition Leader Tony Abbot to allow a conscience vote on the issue of same sex marriage. Today as state premiers arrived in Canberra for the Commonwealth of Australian Government (COAG) meeting Mr Abbott’s stance was challenged by two of his state counterparts.

New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell has confirmed his support for same sex marriage and both O’Farrell and WA Premier Colin Barnett have expressed a view that a conscience vote should be permitted on the issue.

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Liberal Leader Tony Abbott

Focus on the issue has intensified this week following the historic legislation change being passed in New Zealand.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr O’Farrell said, “My view – a view that I’ve come to in recent years – is that as a Liberal who believes that commitment and family units are one of the best ways in which society is organised, I support the concept of same-sex marriage,’’

Mr Barnett has previously stated that he is personally not in favour of same sex marriage but recognises the growing change in society and has given a commitment to allowing a conscience vote in the WA parliament when the state based legislation is presented.

The state leaders comments have been welcomed by marriage equality advocates. The Parent and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) described the comments from Liberal leaders this morning as a huge step forward for same sex couples and their parents who want them to have their relationships recognised in the same way as their siblings.

The group said it respected Mr Abbot’s right to be personally opposed to the issue but called on him to encourage democracy by allowing a conscience vote.

Rodney Croome, Convener of Australian Marriage Equality described this morning’s statement from Mr O’Farrell as ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ appearing for marriage equality advocates. In a statement Mr Croome said,

“Mr O’Farrell represents not only the majority of Australians who support marriage equality but also the majority of Liberal voters.

“Marriage Equality is no longer a left/right issue but one that conservatives can support because it’s about equality, individual freedom and family values.”

Marriage Equality Bills were defeated in federal parliament last year but lower house Greens member Adam Bandt has announced he will introduce the legislation before the federal election and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young has announced separate legislation to recognise same sex couples marriages from overseas.

WA’s Equal Love group will be staging a rally for marriage equality in Stirling Gardens on Saturday May 11 at 1pm.

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