Hundreds of gay marriage supporters have rallied in Sydney as the Liberal party prepares for an emergency meeting to resolve a stand-off on the long-running issue.
Organisers of Sunday's marriage equality rally in the city's CBD estimated up to 600 people attended the event that kicked off around 1pm AEST.
Incredible crowd gathered at Sydney Town Hall to call on the government to hold a free vote in parliament on marriage equality! 🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/4xayRsV6iX— GetUp! (@GetUp) August 6, 2017
Rally organises happy at the 5/600 turn out at Sydney Town Hall #MarriageEquality— Andrea A Zephyr (@A2Zephyr) August 6, 2017
Protesters held placards declaring 'Marriage Equality Matters' and chanted, "What do we want? Marriage equality! When do we want it? Now!".
LGBTIQ activist Sally Rugg told the crowd that the rally was taking place "13 years after John Howard changed the Marriage Act to specifically exclude us".
Those in attendance want a free vote in parliament to decide same-sex marriage, which this week re-emerged as a hot button issue. Several Liberal MPs have threatened to abandon their party's stance on same-sex marriage that mandates determining the issue via a national plebiscite.
By contrast, Labor and the Greens back a free vote in parliament, which whey say would be a cheaper and easier option.
What do we want? Marriage equality! When do we want it? Now! pic.twitter.com/Oyq50ZwRcq— Sydney Mardi Gras (@sydneymardigras) August 6, 2017
A marriage equality rally in Melbourne is due to start at 2pm local time.
Earlier, Liberal senator Dean Smith told the ABC that a parliamentary vote on gay marriage should happen as soon as possible.
Lib Dean Smith says it was plight of Lindt Cafe siege victim Tori Johnson which changed his mind on gay marriage https://t.co/Wlh5xSzZ2A— Rachel Baxendale (@rachelbaxendale) August 6, 2017
"I will be arguing the parliamentary free vote option as I think that is most consistent with our traditions but more importantly, there is an electoral advantage as it deals with this quickly by the parliament and is settled for all," said Smith, who has drafted his own marriage equality bill.
While parliament does not return from the winter break until Tuesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has hastily recalled his party for a special meeting to settle the rift on same-sex marriage on Monday.