Rival bill allows Australian wedding providers to refuse gay couples


An Australian Senator has released a rival same-sex marriage bill that could see a number of anti-discrimination laws overturned.

While the proposed bill, sponsored by Liberal senator James Paterson, would legalise same-sex marriage, a number of attached exemptions would give wedding service providers, such as bakers and florists, the right to refuse gay couples.

It comes just days before the results of a nationwide postal survey are released to the public.

Should the survey return a 'yes' vote, the Australian government are expected to debate a number of proposed exemptions to the law.

The Paterson bill,  would also include a clause which would allow government employees the right to refuse to register a same-sex marriage, while parents will be able to remove their child from a class if the content taught contradicts their beliefs.

Paterson, who is a supporter of same-sex marriage, said he thinks “religious freedom and speech are important rights.”

“I suspect 30-40% of Australian will vote no. I don't think their votes should mean we shouldn't have same-sex marriage, but I do think that their freedoms should be protected and I think my bill is a bill that best does that,” he said.

The proposed bill has been heavily criticised by supporters of gay marriage with Alex Greenwich, co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality, claiming it has the potential to “divide Australians.”

“Australians have been voting not to entrench discrimination in legislation. That is what senator Paterson's bill seeks to do,” he said.

Adding: “Are we going back to a time in Australia where there were signs outside a shop saying who they would serve and who they wouldn't?”

The results of the national survey on same-sex marriage are expected on Wednesday, November 15.