CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister said Tuesday that Parliament could legalize gay marriage this year if the nation’s voters endorse it in a rare nonbinding poll in November.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he expected the public would support marriage equality in the so-called plebiscite, and that he would personally campaign for a “yes” vote. It would be only the fourth time in Australian history, and first time in 43 years, that the government puts a legally nonbinding question to the electorate.
“I have other calls on my time as prime minister, but I will certainly support a ‘yes’ vote,” Turnbull told reporters.
The conservative Liberal Party-led coalition was narrowly re-elected in July 2016 with a promise to let voters decide whether Australia should recognize same-sex marriage through a popular vote. But the Senate in November blocked the plebiscite, which would cost 170 million Australian dollars ($135 million) and promote a divisive public debate.
The Liberal Party held a crisis meeting late Monday to resolve infighting and rejected a push to allow lawmakers to decide the issue now.
The government on Tuesday endorsed the party decision to ask the Senate this week to reconsider allowing the plebiscite, which would be held Nov. 25. Voting would be compulsory and failure to vote would be punishable by a fine, though a voluntary vote…