No date set for Australia same sex marriage vote: PM's spokeswoman

August 21, 2016 1:46 AM EDT

Gay rights activists stand next to a banner as they listen to speeches during a rally supporting same-sex marriage in Sydney, Australia May 31, 2015. REUTERS/David Gray

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By Peter Gosnell

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has recommended that a vote on whether to allow same sex marriage be delayed, but a spokesman for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Sunday no decision had been made.

Australia has been criticized by international human rights groups over its slowness to act on same-sex marriage. Several countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, United States, France, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa, have already amended their marriage laws to recognize same-sex unions.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday that the plebiscite, which Turnbull had promised to hold this year, had been delayed until at least February, but a spokesman for the prime minister said no date had been set.

"Late last week the AEC provided advice to the Special Minister of State that strongly recommended against the conduct of a plebiscite this calendar year," the spokeswoman told Reuters.

"The government has always said that a decision on same-sex marriage will be made by a vote of all Australians in a national plebiscite to be held as soon as practicable. That commitment has not changed.

"The mechanics of the plebiscite, including the specific question and also the timing, are subject to the usual cabinet processes. No decisions have as yet been made."

The Daily Telegraph reported that Turnbull would reveal his timeline for the plebiscite at a party room meeting of the ruling coalition on September 13.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

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