Same-Sex bill could override anti-discrimination laws

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Australians will finally learn the result of a controversial national poll on same-sex marriage Wednesday, with an expected "yes" vote set to unleash a divisive debate over how then to enshrine marriage equality into law.

"I don't believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the government does not. discrimination that is illegal, that is unlawful today", he said.

Australia has edged closer to legalising same-sex marriage with a diverse group of cross-party senators backing a Liberal senator's bill to change the law.

The Paterson bill reportedly shields service providers from discrimination law for refusing goods and services that are directly related to a same-sex wedding, allowing discrimination by businesses such as florists, bakers, hotels, photographers and function centres.

"That would be profoundly disrespectful and a rebuke to the people of Australia".

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"We will wait to see what the final bill looks like before we give a firm commitment as to how we will vote". "We don't want this to be a country with signs like the old "no Irish need apply", he said. "I don't think their votes should mean we shouldn't have same-sex marriage, but I do think that their freedoms should be protected and I think my bill is a bill that best does that", he said.

"There is no apology for the fact that the Bill does not address free speech or parental rights - because it's a Bill about marriage equality".

"This moment can't be the moment we literally do the opposite of what the people are saying".

"I support there being strong religious protections in the bill, should tomorrow the Australian people have decided through the marriage survey that they would like to see same-sex marriage legislated in Australia", he said.

"Australia's anti-discrimination laws were amended in 2013 to enact important protections for LGBTI people in recognition of the unacceptable levels of discrimination".

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"You could potentially see a situation where a hire vehicle company could leave their customers stranded on the way to a marriage ceremony simply because the driver held a thought or belief against it".

The bill will be introduced by Smith, who will be joined by Liberal senators Linda Reynolds and Jane Hume, as well as Labor's Penny Wong and Louise Pratt, the Greens' Richard Di Natale and Janet Rice, Skye Kakoschke-Moore from the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch.

The proposed bill has been heavily criticised by supporters of gay marriage with Alex Greenwich, co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality, claiming it has the potential to "divide Australians".

The conservative government failed twice to get parliament's upper house Senate to approve an election promise a year ago to hold a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage. "As a non-religious person, I should have no fewer rights to live my life consistent with my beliefs than anyone else".

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