sueboyceA Coalition Senator has defied Tony Abbott and crossed the floor to vote in support of laws that advance the rights of LGBTI Australians.

Liberal Senator Sue Boyce said earlier today that she intended to defy the Coalition party line and vote in support of two bills that would recognise same-sex marriages solemnised overseas and ban discrimination against LGBTI people in Commonwealth-funded aged-care homes.

Boyce has since crossed the floor and voted for the Marriage Act Amendment (Recognition of Foreign Marriages for Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2013, which was defeated by 28 votes to 44 in the Senate this morning.

Speaking to Fairfax Media, Boyce said that crossing the floor was “an awful feeling” and “not something you want to do,” and while she hoped she wouldn’t have to do it twice in one day, she supported marriage equality and both pieces of legislation deserved to be voted for.

“If religious organisations want their staff to demonstrate their values that’s fine, but no one would discriminate against a student or a patient who was homosexual or intersex. We wouldn’t accept that from a religiously based hospital, so I don’t think we should accept that in terms of residents in aged care homes,” Boyce said.

Boyce also defended Tony’s Abbott’s continued refusal to allow Coalition Cabinet ministers a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, and hit out at the Labor Party for attacking Abbott on the issue.

“If you’re a member of the Shadow Cabinet you’re expected to maintain Cabinet solidarity – if you wanted to exercise a free vote as a member of Cabinet you would be expected to resign in order to do so. Despite the fact that Labor allowed a conscience vote on the last bill, I think you’ll find numerous people voted the way they thought would be better for their careers or would please the leader.”

Boyce was one of two Coalition Senators to cross the floor and vote in support of legislation that would have implemented an emissions trading scheme in December 2009, shortly after Tony Abbott wrested the Liberal leadership from Malcolm Turnbull and announced the Coalition’s opposition.

In October Boyce announced her intention to retire from Parliament when her term officially ends in June 2014.

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