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Australia Senate Squashes Attempts to Protect Religious Freedom During Same-Sex Marriage Vote


Australia's left-leaning Labor Party defeated an attempt by senate conservatives to protect religious freedoms in the country's new same-sex marriage bill.

Conservative Coalition senators presented five amendments that would shield religious institutions, charities, and public officials from being punished for supporting Biblical marriage. The protections would also allow these religious institutions to decline serving same-sex weddings.

However, The Guardian reports each of the amendments presented were voted down.

The senate's initial debate over same-sex marriage ended Tuesday, making it the first time Australia's house of federal parliament has ever voted in favor of gay marriage.

Australia's Attorney General George Brandis said the bill is about advancing equal rights.

"At last, Australia will no longer be insulting gay people by saying different rules apply to you," he told colleagues. "After centuries of prejudice, discrimination, rejection and ridicule, it is both an expiation for past wrongs and a final act of acceptance and embrace."

However, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who voted against gay marriage, argued the bill will "open a can of worms."

"My concern is that, in time to come, the parliament and its members could at any time change this definition to include multiple marriages or marriages of people under a certain age," she said.

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