Minister expects Australian marriage laws to change

Minister expects Australian marriage laws to change

SYDNEY - Australian communications minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday said he believed there was "a reasonable prospect" of the country changing its laws to allow same-sex couples to marry.

His comments follow the nation's top court on Thursday striking down a landmark gay marriage law in the nation's capital, ruling that only the national parliament, not state and territory authorities, has the power to decide who could wed.

The conservative government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott is opposed to gay marriage and the party has previously refused to allow a conscience vote among its members, in contrast to the Labor opposition.

But Turnbull said he was confident this would change.

"I think it is very likely there will be a conscience vote agreed to by the coalition party room," he told broadcaster ABC.

He added that a private members bill was expected to be introduced to parliament proposing a change to the existing law, which allows marriage only between a man and a woman.

"As to whether that would result in the bill being passed, it's probably a bit early to say because the new parliament, there's a lot of new members," he said, with the government only being elected in September.

"But I think there is a reasonable prospect of a change to the law in this parliament."

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