Calls for a conscience vote on the Greens’ same-sex marriage bill have intensified following the release of a new poll showing four in five Australians believe the issue be should voted on outside party lines.

The Galaxy poll of 1050 Australians showed 62 percent support same-sex marriage, up 2 percent from Galaxy’s 2009 survey.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the results prove the issue of same-sex marriage needs to be resolved.

“Public support is on the increase, not going down, and the 80 per cent of Australians aged 18-24 who support equal marriage shows that this issue is not going away,” she said.

“Why won’t Labor and the Coalition allow a conscience vote? [Prime Minister] Julia Gillard and [Opposition Leader] Tony Abbott need to allow their representatives to speak and vote honestly, and if they don’t show that leadership then we need pressure from inside and outside Parliament to make it happen.”

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Rainbow Labor national spokeswoman Jessica Epps said the ALP needed to change its policy.

“It confirms what we learnt from the federal election,” Epps said.

“Marriage equality is a mainstream issue. With 74 percent of Labor voters supporting marriage equality, it is more important than ever that the party unites to support this proposition, rather than settling for a second best choice of a conscience vote.”

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) is in support of the Greens’ same-sex marriage bill going to a conscience vote, arguing that although it may result in a loss, the opportunity for a national debate is opened up.

AME spokesman Alex Greenwich said the poll showed the major parties were out of touch on the issue.

“Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott cannot ignore the majority of Australians who believe same-sex couples should be able to marry, and the even greater majority who want a conscience vote on the issue,” he said.

The poll — commissioned by AME and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) —  showed 78 percent of those surveyed believe parliamentarians should be allowed a conscience vote on the issue, with 80 percent of ALP voters and 75 percent of Coalition voters in agreement.

Overall, 74 percent of Labor voters, and 48 percent of Coalition voters support same-sex marriage.

AME is calling for the community to sign an online petition to be sent to Gillard and Abbott, urging for a conscience vote to be allowed on the issue.

info: Visit www.freevote.org.au

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