The Australian government’s proposal to hold a national vote on legalising same-sex marriage has been defeated in the upper house of parliament.
Same-sex couples can have civil unions or registered relationships in most Australian states but they are not considered married under national law.
Opinion polls indicate that most Australians support same-sex marriage.
Opposition parties and many supporters of same-sex marriage argued a referendum would be expensive and could unleash a divisive campaign. Instead they decided that Parliament, not the people, should decide.