SUPPORT for same-sex marriage in Australia and a conscience vote among the Coalition has reached its highest level following the results of a survey released today by the Liberal Party’s own polling company.

Commissioned by Australian Marriage Equality (AME), the poll released by Crosby Textor has shown that a record level of 72 per cent of Australians now support extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.

In another record, 77 per cent of respondents called for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow Coalition members a conscience vote on the matter.

This latest poll result marks a significant rise in support from the 65 per cent found in a Nielson poll in August last year.

AME national director Rodney Croome has said that the organisation and other advocates will be using these record figures in their continued push to achieve equal marriage rights across the country.

“With Australians across all key demographics supporting marriage equality in record numbers, it’s fair to say the public has made up its mind, the community debate is over, and it’s time for politicians to act,” he said.

“We will be using this landmark research to work with government members who have yet to declare support for reform to show them they have nothing to fear.”

The poll results comes the day after new NSW Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm challenged Tony Abbott to allow his party a conscience vote and indicated he would move a private member’s bill to amend the marriage act the moment that happened.

News and support following former Olympian Ian Thorpe’s public acknowledgement of his sexuality is also expected to add pressure to Coalition members to vote in favour of marriage equality or call for the conscience vote in the party room.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Australia’s Shelley Argent said the Prime Minister should listen to the will of voters.

“It is also time Mr Abbott and his inner circle listened to voters. Mr Abbott’s views on this issue are not in keeping with most Australians and its time he acted and permitted a Conscience Vote,” she said.

“We live in a democracy and Mr Abbott can always vote negatively, but it’s time he loosened the reins and allowed same sex couples the same opportunities and privileges as their straight peers.”

One set of results from the poll show that support for marriage equality in Australia is currently higher than that in two countries that already have equal marriage rights: New Zealand and the UK.

Co-founder of the Liberal party’s own polling company, Mark Textor said that the results were “exciting”.

“The fact that nearly three-quarters of Australians support allowing gay couples to marry is exciting in itself – rarely do you get such a clear-cut endorsement. But the really exciting part for me is the long-term trend; support rising steadily from just 38% when Newspoll first posed the question a decade ago,” he said.

“Support for same-sex marriage has doubled since 2004, and is still rising. The seismic shift in public attitudes towards marriage equality is undeniable. Almost everyone agrees that this is the right thing to do and there is no need to have a grand fight on this issue.”

Tony Abbott has said any amendment to the Marriage Act will be a matter for the Coalition party room.

“Even a majority of those opposed to marriage equality agree that their elected members should be free to make their own decision rather than follow a party line. It’s time to let politicians do what the public clearly wants,” Croome said.

Argent called for the Prime Minister to give everyone a “fair go” and make an important decision for equal rights and dignity.

“Mr Abbott talks about giving people a “fair go”; here is an opportunity to pass legislation that will cost this country zero dollars, but provide respect and dignity to our same sex attracted sons and daughters which money and power cannot buy,” she said.

 

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