THE Australian Greens have announced they will introduce a bill into Federal Parliament allowing same-sex marriages performed overseas to be recognised in Australia, less than a year after the party’s previous bill on this issue was soundly defeated in the Senate.

South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the bill would seek to amend the federal Marriage Act to allow recognition of overseas same-sex marriages.

“We have couples right around the nation that have travelled to all corners of the world to have their relationship recognised equally and to be able to marry equally,” she said.

The announced bill appears identical to one introduced into parliament by the Greens in June last year, which was defeated 45 votes to 28 in the Senate despite Labor Senators being granted a conscience vote and Liberal Senator Sue Boyce crossing the floor.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said Labor MPs would continue to be granted a conscience vote on marriage equality bills, but believed the success of any such legislation depended on Prime Minister Tony Abbott doing the same for Coalition MPs.

In order to encourage cross-party support for the issue, Plibersek has been seeking a Coalition co-sponsor for her own marriage equality bill that was approved by the Labor caucus in February.

“For any marriage equality legislation to have a genuine prospect of succeeding, in either the House (of Representatives), or the Senate, the Coalition must first allow its members a conscience vote,” Plibersek told the Star Observer.

“That’s why the introduction of my bill is contingent on Tony Abbott allowing his MPs a conscience vote.”

The Star Observer contacted the Prime Minister’s office to find out whether Coalition MPs would be granted a conscience vote on the Greens’ bill but did not receive a reply at the time of writing.

The bill announced today by the Greens would also be the subject of a Senate inquiry, with Hanson-Young encouraging members of all political parties to engage with the impacts of marriage equality becoming legal in other countries.

The Greens stated their announcement was to coincide with marriage equality becoming legal in the UK from tomorrow. Hanson-Young made the announcement in Melbourne alongside a number of Australian same-sex couples planning to marry in the UK.

The announcement has been welcomed by marriage equality activists, with Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome saying Australia was “lagging behind” other countries.

“Marriage equality in Britain was achieved through a cross-party free vote under a Convervative Government, and I am confident marriage equality can pass under the same conditions in Australia,” Croome said.

The Star Observer understands that some in Labor are concerned that if the Greens’ bill fails to pass parliament, it could undermine the future success of the marriage equality campaign.

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