Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is believed to be considering imposing a free vote on marriage equality in parliament at the next election, if his proposed plebiscite doesn’t go ahead.

According to a report earlier today in the Courier Mail, sources have said Turnbull has been wondering how he might convince his partyroom to back a conscience vote after the next election.

Another source said that Liberal MPs would be more likely to accept a free vote after the next election but the Nationals would not.

Sexual and gender diverse Australians are currently waiting to see whether parliament passes Turnbull’s plebiscite-enabling legislation when it resumes next month.

However, this currently seems unlikely, as Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has already spoken out against the non-binding and expensive plebiscite, and looks certain to vote down the bill.

A talk between Attorney-General George Brandis and Labor broke down earlier this week, when they were supposed to be negotiating the terms of a potential plebiscite.

If passed, the public vote proposed by Turnbull would be held on February 11 next year, with $15 million in funding across the “yes” and “no” campaigns.

This comes despite the fact that many outspoken parties in the “no” camp, including the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), have already said they would use the campaign to address issues outside of marriage, like Safe Schools and same-sex adoption.

Support for the plebiscite has fallen from 70 per cent to 39 per cent, a Newspoll in The Australian revealed this week.

It also indicated that 48 per cent of respondents favoured a vote by members of parliament as a means to resolve the issue, and 13 per cent were undecided.

Australia’s LGBTI community has also widely spoken out against the plebiscite, with 60 LGBTI groups recently releasing a joint statement condemning the proposed public vote.

While the Turnbull’s bill looks unlikely to pass, it is still unclear whether Labor will block the plebiscite-enabling legislation.

The party may not reveal its intentions until the next parliament sitting dates on October 10.

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