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.