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Hearing begins on Australian same-sex marriage postal survey

The High Court of Australia on Tuesday began a two-day hearing on the legality of a postal survey which is crucial in determining whether same-sex marriage will be legalised in the country.

The Liberal Party-led government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who promised a plebiscite on same-sex marriage during the 2016 election campaigns, resorted to the postal survey after the Senate rejected a proposal to hold a plebiscite for a second time, reports Efe news.

The High Court must rule on whether the government has the power to allocate about 122 million Australian dollars ($97 million) to this project without parliament’s approval.

The plaintiffs in the case also appealed that the project has been entrusted to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), whose purpose is to collect and disseminate data and not opinions, and not to the Australian Electoral Commission.

“Families like mine and trans- and diversity young people have already, without the campaign having started, been subjected to vile hate and abuse,” Felicity Marlowe, who has three children with Sarah — her partner of 17 years, said at a press conference in Melbourne.

The government plans to start distributing the postal survey, which is voluntary and non-binding, on September 12, and participants have until November 7 to return their response.

If a majority of citizens are in favour, it is expected that the legalisation on the matter will be passed before December 7, when parliament closes the current legislative session.

Australia, which allows civil unions in several states, has been criticised by several organisations for not legalising same-sex marriage.

In December 2013, the High Court rescinded a law allowing such marriages in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) as it was deemed to have contravened the Federal Marriage Act of 1961.

Similar legislative proposals have also failed in the states of Tasmania and New South Wales.

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