The Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, has banned his coalition MPs from voting in favour of same-sex marriage on any of the marriage equality bills heading to the Australian Parliament.
Abbott, well known for his anti-equality views, has publically stated that any ministers who vote to legalize same-sex marriages will be sacked.
‘It is … the standard position of our party [The Liberal Party of Australia] that if a frontbencher cannot support the party’s policy, that person has to leave the frontbench.
‘Obviously our backbenchers are entitled to vote in the end, whichever way they want.’
He added, ‘I would be disappointed if they went against the party position but nevertheless we have always accepted that in the end all votes in our party room for backbenchers at least are conscience votes.’
On Tuesday, Abbott’s ruling coalition voted 66 to 33 in favour of banning coalition MPs from voting in favour of marriage equality.
Abbott’s statements came a day before the announcement that the youngest MP in Australia, Queensland MP for Longman Wyatt Roy, 25, will be voting in favour of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
‘I’m from a very socially conservative Queensland electorate,’ Roy said, ‘but I told my constituents when I was first elected, I’m for same sex marriage and nothing will change that.’
Labor leader Bill Shorten responded: ‘Millions of Australians will have woken up this morning bitterly disappointed with Tony Abbott.
‘The choice in this country is clear – you either have Tony Abbott or you have marriage equality, you can’t have both.’
Abbott defeated former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in the 2013 Australian Federal Election.