Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the government will hold a vote later this year that could put the country one step closer to legalizing gay marriage.
Turnbull told reporters Tuesday his government will present a bill to the Australian Senate to hold a compulsory plebiscite in November. If the Senate rejects the measure, the government would then hold a voluntary postal vote, with the votes due back by mid-November, at a cost of $97 million. If a majority of voters in either scenario check the “yes” box, parliament would then vote on the measure in December.
Turnbull says he is following through on a campaign pledge to hold the plebiscite. “Strong leaders carry out their promises, weak leaders break them,” he told reporters. Senate lawmakers rejected a bill to hold a plebiscite last November, with opposition lawmakers citing concerns about cost and a run-up campaign filled with bigoted and homophobic rhetoric.
Gay rights campaigners are also opposed to the plebiscite, calling on lawmakers to go on the record with a simple “yes” or “no” vote.