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Same-sex marriage survey: George Christensen won't reflect electorate's Yes unless bill has religious protections

ABC News logo ABC News 15/11/2017 Tom Iggulden
George Christensen has indicated he may abstain from voting on the same-sex marriage bill. © ABC News/ Nick Haggarty George Christensen has indicated he may abstain from voting on the same-sex marriage bill.

Abstention is looming as an option for conservatives in Parliament who oppose same-sex marriage.

Prominent No campaign advocates have said they would respect the landslide Yes vote by not opposing legislative moves to legalise same-sex weddings.

But neither will they vote for such legislation unless it contains strong religious protections.

"If there's a bill that comes forward with appropriate protections, I'll put aside my own personal beliefs, represent my electorate and vote Yes," LNP backbencher George Christensen told PM.

"If there is a bill that goes forward for a vote that is deficient in terms of those protections, I still will not vote against my electorate, I will simply abstain."

Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie is reportedly planning a similar approach.

Two competing bills have been put forward as the starting point for debate.

One, from Liberal senator Dean Smith, would allow religious clergy to opt out of performing same-sex wedding ceremonies.

Another, from fellow Liberal James Paterson, would broaden those who could refuse service at such ceremonies to anyone with a religious or conscientious objection.

Parents would also be able to withdraw their children from school programs that included same-sex content such as the Safe Schools program.

"For me it was never about whose bill was put forward," said Mr Christensen, who backs the Paterson model.

"It was about what bill contains what and if the Smith bill is the basis for this vote, then the Smith bill can be amended just like any other bill."

He said any legislation must respect the views of the minority of Australians who voted against same-sex marriage.

"Are we now going to have a situation where Catholic Church halls that are rented out to the community will have to be rented out to a same-sex marriage or for the purposes of a same-sex wedding reception?" he asked.

Pictures: Countries that have legalised same-sex marriage

With Australians getting their say on whether same-sex marriage should be legal via a postal survey, we take a look at the countries around the world where it is legal for all couples to get married. Countries that have legalised same-sex marriage

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