Labor expected to block gay marriage plebiscite

THE Labor Party is expected to block an attempt by the Turnbull Government to hold a plebiscite on gay marriage. 

The issue hung over Federal Parliament this afternoon with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull berating the Opposition for adopting a position which he said was disrespectful. 

"It is utterly wrong and it shows dreadful leadership on the part of Parliamentarians to characterise those people who do not believe the Parliament should change the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to be married, to characterise them as being homophobic, as hating homosexuals - this is so often being injected into the narrative at the moment, it is profoundly disrespectful," Mr Turnbull said. 

"Some of the remarks the Leader of the Opposition has made - I won't repeat them - to which great exception has been taken, he should not repeat.

"We have to respect there are sincerely held views on this issue. They are views very often informed by deeply felt conscience, informed by religious commitment, very often informed by faith."

Mr Turnbull went on to say he was personally in support of allowing gay couples to get married. 

"My view and that of my wife Lucy is that the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry," he told the Parliament.  

"We have been married for over 36 years and we do not believe that if same-sex couples are allowed to have their union recognised as marriage, we do not believe that will undermine our relationship of longstanding."

Yesterday Attorney-General George Brandis also said he would support amending the Marriage Act, however, neither man would be wiling to make the move without the backing of a popular vote. 

"This is a test for Mr Shorten. Because Mr Shorten now has to decide whether he will say to the Australian people, 'I don't trust you to make this judgement I'm not interested in what you have to say about this question.'," Mr Brandis said.  

"And if, by the way, like me, you'll be voting yes in the plebiscite and would like to see marriage equality it is Mr Shorten who stands in the way of that too."

However Labor leader Bill Shorten is expected to recommend to his Party's caucus that they vote against the Coalition's plebiscite legislation - a move which would mean the vote can not go ahead. 

It is understood the Labor Party got its first chance to look at the Government's proposal today. 

"The fact the Liberals announced public funding to give a platform to bigotry shows no interest from the government to work with Labor on this," Mr Shorten said via a statement.  

"He (Malcolm Turnbull) is deliberately sabotaging the process to make it difficult for even the most ardent supporters of marriage equality to back it. 

"It's clear the extreme right wing of the Liberal party are setting marriage equality up to fail.

"History will record Malcolm Turnbull as a fraud on marriage equality, the man who had the opportunity to make it happen but cowered in the face of Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz, the Prime Minister who broke the nation's heart. 

"It shows how weak he is - that he's willing to put extremists above what he genuinely believes, that a plebiscite is a terrible idea.

"I am gravely concerned about the plebiscite and over the coming days and weeks, we will be sitting down with people affected, families and mental health experts about the harm a plebiscite will cause. 

"He has no idea of the harm this could inflict on so many people and their families."

Should both Labor and the Greens refuse to back a plebiscite in the Senate the Coalition does not have the numbers to get it through. 

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