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Oz to debate marriage law after Irish result

Australia's political opposition plans to harness momentum from the Irish gay marriage referendum by proposing a law that would recognise same-sex marriages - something the country's conservative prime minister is against.

Labor Party leader Bill Shorten will become the first leader of a major Australian political party to back a bill to overturn a national ban on gay marriage.


Gay rights advocates fear that government politicians will be reluctant to support the bill, as such a law would be seen as a political victory for Shorten over Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a former seminarian and a staunch opponent of marriage equality.

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong, who is in a lesbian relationship, said that the recent referendum was an important trigger for a similar debate (inset) in Australia.

Opinion polls show that most Australians support gay marriage. Gay rights advocates say Australia is now the only English-speaking developed country with a ban on same-sex marriage.