Gay rights advocates welcome Australia's Senate rejecting public vote

Gay rights advocates have welcomed Australia's Senate voting down a government plan to hold a nonbinding public vote on recognizing gay marriage and called on Parliament to legislate for marriage equality soon.

The Senate voted 33-29 late Monday against holding the plebiscite on same-sex marriage that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's conservative government had planned for Feb. 11.

Marriage equality opponents had supported the plan, while most gay marriage advocates had opposed it, warning it would spark a divisive debate.

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Ivan Hinton-Teoh, a spokesman for the gay rights group just.equal, said on Tuesday the Parliament should decide the issue during the current three-year term.

Shelley Argent, spokeswoman for PFLAG Australia which represents parents of gay children, said the plebiscite had been designed to fail.