Australia same-sex marriage poll: Perth Church leaders come out for 'yes' vote

A number of senior church leaders in Perth are coming together to launch Australian Christians for Marriage Equality in support of the 'yes' vote in the country's postal survey on gay marriage.

Anglican, Catholic, Quaker and free church leaders united to join the national campaign in a sign of how the poll is fracturing Australian Christians.

People carry banners and signs as they participate in a marriage equality march in Melbourne, Australia, August 26, 2017.Reuters

'Primarily it's about making Australia a fairer and more just society,' said the Dean of St George's Cathedral Perth, Richard Pengelley, who headed the move.

In the Anglican diocese of Perth there were a number of priests on both sides of the debate, he said.

'And that's OK, that's religious freedom,' he said. 'This will strengthen Australian society not weaken it.'

Lay Catholic and Federal Labor member Matt Keogh told around 40 other Christians gathered for the launch that same-sex marriage would not compel churches to perform gay ceremonies.

'No religion or church should ever dictate to the community...fundamental to everything we believe is love, and that's why marriage equality should become a reality in Australia,' he said.

'Churches will still be able to determine who they do and don't marry in the church,' he added.

'Knowing that, Catholics and other Christians should feel very free to vote in support of marriage equality.'

It comes after Sydney clerics hit out in horror at their diocese's decision to donate $1million to the 'no' campaign. 

The Archbishop of Sydney announced the move last month, adding he made 'no apology' for backing the 'no' campaign in the country's upcoming postal poll to advise the government on whether to legalise gay marriage.

'The stakes are high and the cost is high,' Glenn Davies told a Sydney synod of churches. 'Yet the cause is just and it is a consequence of our discipleship to uphold the gift of marriage as God has designed it – a creation ordinance for all people.' 

The debate building up to the postal survey has become increasingly toxic, with several churches targeted with threats of violence for their opposition to same-sex marriage.