Hundreds of Australians have taken part in a rally in Sydney calling for marriage equality in the country. The peaceful demonstration near Sydney's Taylor Square on Saturday (30 May) saw people wave rainbow flags and make heart shapes with their hands in support of same-sex weddings.

The rally comes as Australia's opposition leader Bill Shorten introduced a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in the lower house of parliament, despite opposition from conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Abbott, a socially conservative Catholic, has said that the government does not want a vote on same-sex marriage. He told the parliament: "I accept that same-sex marriage is a significant issue. It's an important issue. It's important to many people. But frankly, this government's absolute fundamental priority in the budget session of parliament is to get the most urgent budget measures through and by far the most urgent budget measure is the small business budget boost, so that's what I'm focused on".

But Abbott's sister, Sydney Liberal councillor Christine Forster, who attended the rally, called for bi-partisan agreement on the issue.

"We need to take the politics out of it now. It's too important to too many people to play political games with something like marriage equality," she said.

A survey of 1,000 Australians in June last year found that 72% of people favour legalising same-sex marriage.

Australia is a predominantly Christian country with a quarter of the population indentifying themselves as Catholic. After Ireland, another traditionally Catholic country, approved same-sex marriage by a landslide in its 22 May referendum, there are now hopes in Australia that the country will soon follow suit in legalising same-sex marriage.