Fulfilling his promise made during the campaign for 2016's prime ministerial election, Australia's Malcolm Turnbull has presented same-sex marriage vote bill before parliament. Turnbull introduced the legislation, which aims to set up a plebiscite on gay marriage, on Wednesday (14 September).

The Australian premier had earlier promised to hold a referendum on legalising same-sex marriage if his government was re-elected on 2 July. Well known for his attitude in favour of the marriage, Turnbull told MPs that society would be stronger if more people were married.

In Wednesday's session, he reminded leaders that the ballot was a union election commitment they should support and respect because it was "thoroughly democratic".

"We have to respect there are sincerely held views on this issue. They are views very often informed by deeply felt conscience, informed by religious commitment very often, informed by faith. It is we have to respect and we must respect – and I can say the government respects, the diversity of views on this issue.

"From the bottom of my heart that our society was stronger if more people were married and there were fewer divorces. If there was something we could do to make families happier, it would be a wonderful thing.

"...And sticking together and working hard and supporting their children and their families and enabling their dreams. And that is why I support same-sex marriage," Turnbull said, adding that he and his wife Lucy favour same sex marriage and would love to vote yes in the 11 February poll.

Meanwhile, it was reported that Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition party, would block the same-sex marriage plebiscite as he had earlier stated that in modern Australia, "no one should have to justify their sexuality or their love, to anyone else.

"And instead of sitting in judgement, instead of providing a taxpayer-funded platform for homophobia, we will gift every Australian an equal right in respect of love. Nothing less."

"I am gravely concerned about the plebiscite and over the coming days and weeks, we will be sitting down with people affected, families and mental health experts about the harm a plebiscite will cause," he said, adding history would remember Turnbull as the "prime minister who broke the nation's heart".