Australia gay marriage: No free vote on same-sex unions

Tony Abbott Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tony Abbott said a subsequent free vote or a plebiscite could be held later

Australia's government has blocked a free vote on same-sex marriage, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying the issue should be "put to the people" following the next election.

Mr Abbott said there was "roughly 60:30" support among MPs for keeping the traditional definition of marriage.

He called a snap coalition meeting ahead of a same-sex marriage bill coming before parliament next week.

A free vote or plebiscite may be held in a "subsequent term of parliament".

"Going into the next election we will have more to say, but the disposition is that in the next term of parliament, we will put it to the people," ABC News quotes him as saying.

Mr Abbott's Liberal Party and his right-wing coalition partner the National Party of Australia are currently against allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The prime minister's successful bid to block any free vote on the same-sex marriage bill due before parliament, has angered members of his own party who are in favour of the motion.

Liberal MP Warren Entsch will present the bill on Monday - but it will not pass without a free vote.

Mr Entsch said: "(The outcome of the meeting) proves the disconnect between some ministers and the grassroots and why we are having such problems."

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