Australian opposition leader to introduce marriage equality bill

Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten will introduce a private members' bill to introduce equal marriage following Ireland's historic referendum result this weekend. The move by the Labor Party leader comes after Prime Minister Tony Abbott ruled out Australia holding its own referendum on the issue as the Irish result came in on Saturday (May 22). Taking to Twitter this morning, Mr Shorten announced that he had given notice to move forward a bill on the issue next week (June 1). The 48-year-old previously congratulated Ireland on the result, saying it was time for his own country to "embrace" equality. With his party by no means united over the issue, Mr Shorten said Labor MPs and senators would vote according to their conscience, The Guardian reports. He added that for marriage equality to pass in parliament, the prime minister would also have to  allow ruling Coalition MPs and senators a free vote on the issue. He said he understood his bill “will not have the universal support of my colleagues” and would “challenge the deeply held personal beliefs of MPs and senators on both sides of politics”, bu that he believed “the time has well and truly come for the parliament to debate marriage equality”. He added: “Our current law excludes some individuals ... it says to them, your relationships are not equally valued by the state, your love is less equal under the law. “The world isn’t waiting for Tony Abbott and our parliament shouldn’t have to.” Same-sex couples are prevented from marrying in Australia due to a ban on same-sex marriage contained within the federal Marriage Act (1961), amended in 2004. More stories: Ireland seeks to attract LGBT travel market Russia's Deputy PM: 'West will collapse under gays and ISIS'