Rival gay marriage bill announced

BUSINESSES will be able to claim "conscientious objection" and refuse to provide services for a gay couple's wedding under a new bill to legalise same-sex marriage.

Ministers of religion and celebrants that object to gay marriage would also be able to refuse to preside over a wedding if it went against their beliefs under the new bill released by conservative MPs today.

It would also introduce a Safe Schools clause that would allow parents to pull their children out of classes that conflicted with their values, introduce freedom of speech protections for people who spoke out against gay marriage, and introduce an "anti-detriment clause" that would prevent government authorities from taking legal action against an individual "with a traditional view of marriage".

Non-government organisations, businesses, or individuals would be still be able to take legal action, however.

It's understood the new bill would override state and territory anti-discrimination laws.

Liberal senator James Paterson, who supports gay marriage, said the extra protections were necessary so no Australian would be penalised by same-sex marriage being made legal.

"All Australians should be able to live their lives according to their own values," he said when releasing the bill today.

"No group should impose their values on another group.

"If the parliament opts for a narrower bill with fewer protections, I fear we will see some Australians seek to impose their values on others, with court cases and other legal mechanisms.

"No one should want to see the messy court cases that have occurred after same-sex marriage was legalised in other countries.

"This bill is not a reason to delay legislating same-sex marriage. If a 'Yes' result is confirmed this week, this bill could be passed by the parliament as quickly as any other bill. I believe the parliament should do so before Christmas, with additional sitting weeks if necessary."

The new bill has been made public two days before the result of the postal survey on gay marriage is released.

It's now the second bill that the government could potentially introduce to make gay marriage legal.

The No campaign has been fiercely opposed to the first bill, by Liberal senator Dean Smith, arguing that it did not go far enough to protect religious freedoms, freedom of speech, or allow for conscientious objection.

Senator Smith said yesterday he would introduce his bill to the senate this Thursday if a Yes vote prevailed.

But Senator Paterson has called for the Coalition party room to decide which bill should go before Parliament when both houses return on November 27.

It sets the scene for an internal clash between conservative and moderate MPs in the final two sitting weeks of the year and a new headache for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull Government Minister Mathias Cormann told ABC today it would be up to the Parliament to decide which bill would be debated.

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