The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Front Page - SHARRI MARKSON & KYLAR LOUSSIKIAN

MAL­COLM Turn­bull has ruled out laws to al­low wed­ding busi­nesses to re­ject gay cou­ples if the Yes vote tri­umphs in today’s postal plebiscite on same-sex mar­riage.

He ex­pects some amend­ments to the SSM bill, but far­reach­ing re­li­gious pro­tec­tions be­ing pushed by some of his con­ser­va­tive col­leagues “have vir­tu­ally no prospect of get­ting through” be­cause they would weaken dis­crim­i­na­tion laws.

“I don’t be­lieve Aus­tralians would wel­come ... mak­ing le­gal, dis­crim­i­na­tion ... that is un­law­ful today,” Mr Turn­bull said.

MAL­COLM Turn­bull has ruled out weak­en­ing an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion laws so wed­ding plan­ners can refuse to serve gay cou­ples, as he pre­pares to wel­come the his­toric out­come of the same-sex mar­riage vote today.

The Prime Min­is­ter launched a re­newed de­fence of his lead­er­ship from the Philip­pines as con­ser­va­tive MPs did not rule out the op­tion of chal­leng­ing his lead­er­ship if he re­fused to al­low con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tions to gay mar­riage. The po­lit­i­cal jostling comes as the Aus­tralian Bureau of Statis­tics will this morn­ing an­nounce the out­come of the postal sur­vey, which al­most 12 mil­lion Aus­tralians — just un­der 80 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion — par­tic­i­pated in.

“It’s un­der my prime min­is­ter­ship that all Aus­tralians have been given a say on this is­sue,” Mr Turn­bull said.

“And if their an­swer is yes, then … as I promised, there will be a free vote.”

Mr Turn­bull has lent his sup­port to a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill by West Aus­tralian Lib­eral sen­a­tor Dean Smith, which is ex­pected to be in­tro­duced to­mor­row if the yes vote is suc­cess­ful as widely an­tic­i­pated.

But con­ser­va­tives are back­ing an al­ter­na­tive bill pro­posed by Vic­to­rian Lib­eral sen­a­tor James Pater­son, which has ex­ten­sive shield laws for busi­nesses and oth­ers op­posed to gay mar­riage, which would over­ride some state an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion laws.

How­ever, Mr Turn­bull re­jected calls for those far­reach­ing carve-outs.

“I don’t be­lieve Aus­tralians would wel­come, and cer­tainly the gov­ern­ment does not, would not coun­te­nance mak­ing le­gal, dis­crim­i­na­tion that is il­le­gal, that is un­law­ful today,” Mr Turn­bull said.

He was sup­ported by At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Ge­orge Bran­dis, who said: “We are cer­tainly not go­ing to re­move one form of dis­crim­i­na­tion and at the same time in­state a new form of dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

One con­ser­va­tive MP said Mr Turn­bull seemed to have given up on hold­ing the lead­er­ship for the long term.

“It’s un­ten­able for us not to de­fend con­science ob­jec­tion and those sort of free­doms, like hav­ing the abil­ity to re­move chil­dren from any­thing taught in a school that is con­trary to your re­li­gious be­liefs,” he said.

“Turn­bull was not will­ing to en­gage on it, which sug­gests he’s given up.”

Some se­nior Liberals, in­clud­ing Trea­surer Scott Mor­ri­son, have warned they are con­cerned about the Smith bill. “I think there would need (to be), per­son­ally, ad­di­tional pro­tec­tions to those pro­vided in the Dean Smith bill,” Mr Mor­ri­son said.

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