The Australian Labor Party would have banned same-sex marriage the first time it was raised in parliament, a Victorian Senator said today.

Senator Jacinta Collins said when the ALP attempted to divide same-sex marriage legislation from same-sex adoption legislation they would have voted to ban marriage then and there.

Referring to the Vatican’s ruling on homosexual discrimination -“ that homosexuals should not be condemned, but homosexuality must never be allowed to become equal -“ Collins told the Senate the gay community needed to exercise care and concern to present itself as acceptable.

The gay and lesbian Mardi Gras and a recent school themed photo shoot in DNA magazine were examples of the gay community doing itself no favours, she said. She added that on some occasions people were called homophobic when actually they were just showing good sense.

Collins’s comments were disputed by her Queensland ALP colleague Senator Claire Moore spoke out against those who had written very similar to Senators personally attacking the gay and lesbian community because of their fear of homosexuality.

Why is it considered okay to demonise some people, Moore asked. Where is the outrage and anger when it occurs? Where is the threat?

Despite an earlier decision to send proposed same-sex marriage legislation to a Senate Committee, senators from both the ALP and the Liberal Party were prepared to vote for a ban in today’s special Senate hearing.

Meantime, Democrats senator Andrew Bartlett fought back tears during the Senate debate on same-sex marriage when talking about the thousand-strong Marriage Protection Forum held last week.

I support marriage. But what do I say to a constituent who rings me and says, ‘I want to get married, but it’s illegal,’ he said.

Greens senator Kerry Nettle said she felt like she was in a time warp.

I feel like I’m back in the Dark Ages when I hear some of the attitudes expressed in the debate, Nettle said.

On this issue the Howard Government is even more conservative than the US. Across the world nations are enshrining the rights of same-sex couples in legislation. Yet Australia is desperately swimming against this tide.

Nettle’s colleague Bob Brown was asked to withdraw his accusation that Prime Minister John Howard hated homosexuals. Brown refused, calling the legislation hateful.

If the Prime Minister feels this isn’t the case, let him argue it, Brown said.

The same-sex marriage legislation was rushed into the Senate today ahead of other issues including anti-terrorism legislation.

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