Marriage equality ‘yes’ vote: MP Tony Pasin vows to protect religious freedoms

Image: Fairfax Media.

Image: Fairfax Media.

Update: 12.15pm Wednesday

Member for Barker Tony Pasin says he will “vote in Parliament based on the will of the people” when same-sex marriage laws are debated, despite his personal belief in the traditional definition of marriage.

“I strongly believe, however, that we need to ensure that religious freedoms are protected,” he said.

“As such, I will be supporting a bill in Parliament to change the definition of marriage that includes the strongest possible protections for religious freedom.

“Many people have migrated to Australia to escape religious persecution and in so doing enjoy Australia’s freedom.

“I am a passionate advocate for protecting these freedoms.”

Two rival pieces of legislation have been proposed by Coalition MPs with different ideas about how to change the Marriage Act.

Dean Smith’s bill, which has cross-party support, proposes a minimalist change to the act; but James Paterson’s calls for wide-reaching legal protection for anyone who refuses to do business with same-sex couples, overriding anti-discrimination laws.

9.45am Wednesday

Image: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Image: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

A majority of survey respondents in Barker, the federal electorate which encompasses the Murraylands, have voted yes to marriage equality, matching the national result.

On the question “should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”, 52.3 per cent of Barker respondents, or 42,498 people, answered yes.

A significant minority, 47.7pc or 38.827 people, said no.

Local participation in the survey was highest among 60-to-84-year-olds and lowest among 20-to-39-year-olds.

Legislation is expected to be introduced to the federal Parliament today and debated in the coming days and weeks.

Nationally, 61.6pc of Australians answered in the affirmative.

Almost 80pc of eligible respondents returned their surveys.