Same-Sex Marriage Reform: Tony Abbott Challenged by New Zealand MP to Allow Conscience Vote

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New Zealand MP Louisa Wall has urged Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott to reform the country's same sex marriage laws. The Labour MP, who is a known gay politician, is New Zealand's former representative netball and rugby union player.  Ms Wall has released a video challenging the Mr Abbott to allow a free vote in reforming same sex marriage.

The New Zealand MP wanted Mr Abbott to know that he should not be afraid of democracy and the people. She said it was high time marriage equality was discussed in the country.

Ms Wall was the one who drafted the Marriage Amendment Bill in New Zealand which made it the 13th in the world to recognise same-sex marriage. New Zealand is the first country in the Asia-Pacific to allow gay marriage.

In April 2013, New Zealand MPs supported the bill via conscience votes with no instructions from their parties. Ms Wall said the MPs were able to join the global conversation of marriage equality. She added that every member of New Zealand's parliament had exercised their conscience vote.

The Labour Party of Australia will be introducing a private members' bill to take another step towards legalising same-sex marriage in the country.  The party is hoping the move will pressure Tony Abbott to allow a conscience vote.

Same-sex marriage advocates in Australia will be targeting 70 federal politicians to try and convince them to change their position on marriage equality in 2014. Some of the MPs on the list include Treasurer Joe Hockey and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Gay marriage supporters expect to face a long battle with 15 new Liberal politicians saying they were unable to change their stand against same-sex marriage or were unwilling to declare support based on the results of a survey.

Advocate group Australian Marriage Equality has set a target of 50 members of the lower house with 2014 with a two-thirds bias towards Liberal party members. Aside from Mr Hockey and Ms Bishop, among the high-profile targets include Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Assistant Minister Sussan Ley. Targets in the Labour Party include shadow treasurer Chris Bowen and Ed Husic.

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