The Australian Greens have again called on both major parties to allow a conscience vote on same-sex marriage following a second Nielsen poll showing almost six in 10 voters support marriage equality.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott should put their personal opposition to gay marriage aside and listen to the community.

“It’s time the leaders of the major parties stepped out of the way and allowed their members to have a free vote so the overwhelming majority of public opinion can be reflected in the Parliament,” Hanson-Young said last week.

“The Prime Minister has been talking a lot about her commitment to making tough decisions in the national interest.

“Here she has a chance to make an easy decision that’s not only in the national interest, but also popular.”

Since Hanson-Young’s remarks, Prime Minister Gillard has again stated her personal opposition to same-sex marriage.

“I think for our culture, for our heritage, the Marriage Act and marriage being between a man and a woman has a special status,” Gillard told Sky News on Sunday.

This month’s Nielsen poll shows 57 percent — of 1400 people surveyed — support same-sex marriage, and 37 percent were opposed.

The data are almost identical to a similar Nielsen poll taken last November, except this time there was a 1 percent drop in opposition to gay marriage.

The recent poll showed those most in favour of same-sex marriage are Greens voters (81 percent in favour) followed by ALP voters (65 percent in favour, 27 percent opposed).

In reverse, almost five in 10 Coalition voters surveyed (48 percent) were opposed to same-sex marriage, compared to 44 percent in favour.

In line with other polls, women are more supportive (65 percent) than men (48 percent) and support was greater among younger voters than older voters.

The issue of same-sex marriage is set to be debated at the ALP National Conference in December, while same-sex marriage rallies are planned across the country in the lead-up.

Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich said the poll should not be ignored and claimed the figures prove religious opposition is not impacting on ordinary Australians.

“The poll shows that the Australian public has rejected the [Australian Christian Lobby’s] scare tactics, including the false claim that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy,” Greenwich said.

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