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in brief: britain moves to legalise gay marriage

British MPs have voted in favour of legislation allowing same-sex marriage in the House of Commons, despite many Conservatives breaking ranks and voting against the Bill.

The legislation convincingly passed the second stage of the legislative process. MPs from Labour, Liberal Democrats and a small selection of smaller parties supported the legislation. The final vote was 400 to 175.

An estimated 139 Tories voted against PM David Cameron’s bill. Despite this, Cameron described the occasion as ‘a step forward for our country.’ Deputy PM Nick Clegg highlighted that ‘No matter who you are and who you love, we are all equal. Marriage is about love and commitment, and it should no longer be denied to people just because they are gay.’

If the legislation passes the next stage, it will apply in England and Wales. Scotland has its own plans to legalise same-sex marriage. Those who wish to carry out same-sex marriages will be able to once the legislation is passed, however, in line with their doctrines, the Church of England and its Welsh counterpart will be exempt from doing so.

Britain is now on its way to joining 11 countries, including France, Canada, and South Africa, which have legalised same-sex marriage. Australia rejected similar legislation last year.

Rodney Croome, Australian Marriage Equality convener, says Australia is falling behind on the path to marriage equality.

‘The majority of Australians who support marriage equality will be pleased to see such resounding support from a country with which we share so much,’ Mr Croome said in a statement.

‘But this will be tinged with embarrassment that Australia is falling further behind and may soon be the only developed, English-speaking country without marriage equality.’

He claimed that many Australians will travel to the UK to marry if the bill passes the House of Lords and becomes law. In a statement, he expressed sorrow that these couples will not have their marriage recognised in their home country.

Australian Marriage Equality is running a campaign to make same-sex marriage a key issue in the 2013 election. They hope to achieve a Coalition conscience vote and encourage Labor candidates to support the reform. A recent Galaxy poll shows that 64% of Australians support marriage equality.

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