Same-Sex bill could override anti-discrimination laws

Liberal Senator Dean Smith will table a private members bill if the same sex marriage vote succeeds

Australia has had its say in the contentious same-sex marriage postal survey and has overwhelmingly supported the notion of marriage equality.

Paterson's bill, which has been roundly criticised by marriage equality supporters, would allow churches and celebrants to refuse to solemnise a same sex wedding, establish a limited right of conscientious objection so no-one is forced to participate in a same-sex wedding against their sincerely held beliefs, and would allow parents to take their children out of classes that conflict with their values.

"I will now work constructively with my parliamentary colleagues over the coming weeks on amendments to ensure that the strongest possible protections for the freedoms of all Australians are enshrined in the final legislation", he said.

'The Smith Bill supports the protection of religious freedoms in two key ways.

"If we change the law to allow same-sex couples to marry, and we don't at the same time make provisions for religious freedom, then the. freedom of conscience and freedom of speech of some people could suffer", the Victorian Senator said on Monday.

The debate will continue the week of 27 November, with amendments reserved for that week.

"The consensus position was the position that the Greens would support", he said, saying senators should "think very very carefully about entrenching discrimination to support your colleagues rather than this bill".

Senator Smith is aiming to introduce his bill to the upper house on Thursday. "Personally, I believe that the Paterson bill goes somewhat too far".

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Earlier, at a rally in Melbourne, Shorten promised: "Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate".

At 10am on Wednesday, the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics will reveal whether Australia will join countries like Canada and the United Kingdom in favour of marriage equality or remain against it alongside nations like Iraq and Yemen.

Senator Matt Canavan told ABC News24 that he would respect the wishes of Queensland and would not oppose a same-sex marriage bill, but added he "won't support a bill that diminishes fundamental human rights", arguing that the Smith bill was not "adequate".

Under Senator Paterson's plan, it would also allow any person or business to refuse to co-operate with the staging of same-sex weddings, protecting them from civil litigation under discrimination laws.

"It's clearly a good bill to start with", he said.

Hinch said Paterson had acted as a "stalking horse" for conservative opponents of same-sex marriage and suggested amendments put up one by one would be "slaughtered".

Various opinion polls point to a majority "yes" vote, possibly as high as 60 per cent.

Senators will be able to propose amendments to the bill.

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