Australian Labour Party blocks referendum on same-sex marriage

Bill Shorten says the vote would be "expensive (and) divisive"

Australian Labour Party blocks referendum on same-sex marriage

A hand-made placard is held up as gay rights demonstrators gather for a rally in Sydney | Image: Rick Rycroft AP/Press Association Images

Members of the opposition Labour Party in Australia has blocked plans to hold a referendum on legalising same-sex marriage there.

It means the measure will likely be delayed for at least three years.

It is not clear if Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will instead allow a parliamentary vote on the issue.

ABC reports Labour MPs and Senators voted unanimously to block the bill establishing the vote.

Labour leader Bill Shorten says the referendum would be "'expensive (and) divisive".

He says his party wants to achieve marriage equality "in the fastest, cheapest, least harmful way possible".

He adds that the best way to do that is "a free vote in parliament."

A poll in September showed 53% of Australians want their parliament to resolve the issue.

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) co-chair Alex Greenwich said: “AME believe this is an issue that can be resolved by the parliament, and this poll confirms that Australian people believe this also."

"The proposed plebiscite is deeply unfair, overly complicated and totally unnecessary".