Australian gay marriage bill would let churches boycott

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People celebrate after the announcement of the same-sex marriage postal survey result in front of the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Australians supported gay marriage in a postal survey that ensures Parliament will consider legalizing same-sex weddings this year. (David Crosling/AAP Image via AP)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A senator has introduced a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Australia and allow only churches and ministers of religion to boycott such weddings.

A voter survey released Wednesday showed Australians support legalizing marriage equality, and the government had promised if that was the result, Parliament would consider a bill in its final session of the year.

The bill introduced Wednesday is favored by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who urged lawmakers to heed the survey results.

The debate has been intensifying over the possibility of gay wedding boycotts and refusals to provide wedding venues and other services. A draft gay-marriage bill released Monday by other government lawmakers has been criticized as lessening protections for gays against discrimination.