POLITICS

Rebel Liberals Release Gay Marriage Bill Reflecting Religious Rights

The bill was released a day ahead of a special meeting to try and settle the rift on marriage equality.

06/08/2017 6:14 PM AEST | Updated 06/08/2017 8:28 PM AEST

Rebel Liberal Party MPs have released a Private Members' Bill for same-sex marriage which recognised the beliefs of religious ministers and marriage celebrants.

Senator Smith released the Private Member's Bill one day ahead of a special meeting called by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, set to take place on Monday afternoon, to settle the rift on marriage equality.

The special party room meeting has been called one day prior to Federal parliament returning from the long winter break.

Smith described the Liberal party's Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 as the most comprehensive bill to go before Parliament, accounting for both marriage equality and religious freedoms.

"This Bill gives effect to our view that all Australians should have equal access to Australia's marriage laws and that extending marriage to same-sex couples will strengthen and not diminish marriage in Australia," Smith said.

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Rallies took place in Sydney on August 6 in support for marriage equality.

The Bill is the first to introduce a new class of religious marriage celebrants and recognise the religious views of ministers, providing them the respect to refuse to perform a marriage if it is contrary to their religious beliefs.

Tim Wilson, Member for Goldstein, said the Bill recognises a balance between marriage equality and religion.

"This Bill is solely about civil marriage. It will not interfere in any way with any church or religious practice and strikes the important balance on religious freedom," Wilson said.

Smith, who was formerly against same-sex marriage, became an advocate for marriage equality following the death of Lindt Cafe Siege victim Tori Johnson.

"He and his partner had been wanting to get married or had been waiting to get married in the same way that so many gay and lesbian Australians are waiting to get married," Smith told Insiders.

"That moved me -- I came to the conclusion very quickly, with great clarity, that it is now time to legislate by parliamentary vote same-sex marriage in Australia."

Smith, along with five other Liberal MPs, are advocating for a free vote and are asking colleagues to back the private members' Bill.

On Sunday, hundreds of same-sex marriage advocates gathered in Sydney's CBD to show support for marriage equality.

Smith has warned that should a Labor government be elected in the future, religious freedoms may not be considered.

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