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Australian government's proposal defeated in the upper house of parliament.

Australian government’s proposal defeated in the upper house of parliament.

The Australian government’s proposal to hold a national vote on legalising same-sex marriage has been defeated in the upper house of parliament.

The government said a non-binding ballot, or a referendum was the quickest way to amend the Marriage Act.

Same-sex couples can have civil unions or registered relationships in most Australian states but they are not considered married under national law.

Opinion polls indicate that most Australians support same-sex marriage.

However opposition parties and many supporters of same-sex marriage argued a referendum would be expensive and could unleash a divisive campaign.

Marriage equality has proved a tricky issue for Prime Minister MALCOLM TURNBULL. He is personally in favour of same-sex marriage but is reluctant to allow his own MPs a free vote on the issue.

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