ABC News

Tasmania’s Upper House debates gay marriage
Updated 29 minutes ago

PHOTO: If passed, the bill could make Tasmania the first Australian state to legalise gay marriage. (Reuters Andrew Burton, file photo)
Tasmania’s Legislative Council sat late into the night, debating a bill that could make the state the first in the country to legalise gay marriage.

The House of Assembly passed the Labor-Green same-sex marriage bill last month, 13 votes to 11.

Debate in the Upper House was led by the independent member for Murchison, Ruth Forrest, who is a strong supporter of marriage equality.

She told the house the bill is about ending discrimination.

“This is social reform that matters so much to so many Tasmanians,” she said.

“It concerns people who are personally impacted, those who are gay, have a gay family member or friend and many others who have no such personal connection but believe in equality, fairness and social justice for all Tasmanians.”

The second speaker was the independent member for Apsley Tania Rattray.

Ms Rattray was one of four crucial undecided votes going into the debate, but she told the house she will not support the bill.

“During my contribution today I asked the question, ‘Has the tide turned enough for me to support same-sex marriage in Tasmania?’,” she said.

“Taking into consideration all the information and views expressed to me, I don’t feel it has.”

Dozens of gay rights campaigners packed the public gallery for the debate.

Campaigner Rodney Croome says Ms Rattray’s position is disappointing, but the bill is not dead yet.

“We’re still to hear from quite a few crucial MLC’s so we’re not giving up hope that this legislation may pass,” he said.

Debate will continue this morning, with a vote expected later today.