The Latest: Australian Senate debates marriage equality

A woman twirls lights as members of the gay community and their supporters celebrate the result of a postal survey calling for gay marriage right in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Australians supported gay marriage in a postal survey that ensures Parliament will consider legalizing same-sex weddings this year. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

CANBERRA, Australia - The Latest on the Australian gay marriage postal survey (all times local):

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11:35 a.m.

A gay lawmaker has started the Australian Parliament's debate on legalizing same-sex marriage with an emotion speech in which he warned against winding back LGBT rights.

The Senate debate began on Thursday after a nonbinding voter survey found nearly two-thirds of the respondents wanted reform. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants the legislation rushed before Parliament ends its session for the year on Dec. 7.

Senator Dean Smith introduced a bill that would allow only churches and certain religious figures to refuse to take part in gay weddings. Another proposal allows boycotts from venues and other wedding service providers.

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5:20 p.m.

A senator has introduced a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Australia and allow only churches and ministers of religion to boycott such weddings.

A voter survey released Wednesday showed Australians support legalizing marriage equality, and the government had promised if that was the result, Parliament would consider a bill in its final session of the year.

The bill introduced Wednesday is favoured by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who urged lawmakers to heed the survey results.

Debate has been intensifying over the possibility of gay wedding boycotts and refusals to provide wedding venues and other services. A draft gay-marriage bill released Monday by other government lawmakers has been criticized as lessening protections for gays against discrimination.


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