France and New Zealand have both legalised same-sex marriage in recent days, and experts say this will affect the future of Australia's popular and political stance on the issue.
Today the French Parliament legalised same-sex marriage and gay adoption after months of mass protests against the bill.
It was passed in its second and final reading, with a majority of 331 votes in support to 225 against.
New Zealand also passed a similar bill last week, becoming the first Asia-Pacific nation to legalise gay marriage. It was passed without opposition on the scale of that seen in France.
So where does that leave Australia?
Senior lecturer in gay and lesbian history, politics and culture at Melbourne University, Dr Graham Willett, says New Zealand's decision, more than France's, and the manner in which it occurred is significant to Australia's debate.
“In New Zealand it went through to mostly enthusiasm,” Dr Willett told SBS.
“I think that's by far the most important breakthrough in terms of Australia because we think of ourselves as akin to New Zealanders.
“In France, the fact that the parliament were prepared to change the law despite quite strong opposition both inside and outside the parliament, is significant in the sense that those in favour have been prepared to stand up and push it through. That represents a different kind of dynamic,” he says.
After New Zealand's vote, several Australian leaders were asked or felt compelled to make a statement about their own opinion.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced he had changed his mind on the issue and now supported same-sex marriage, and urged Tony Abbott to allow a conscience vote.
The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition also spoke publicly. Ms Gillard had not changed her view that she was personally opposed, but still supported a conscience vote for Labor MPs.
“But then Tony Abbott blinked,” says Dr Willett.
"It will depend on the view of the post-election party room," Mr Abbott told Sky News a few days after New Zealand's vote.
"I can't pretend to bind my party for all time."
“I think that represents a sort of concession to what's happening,” says Dr Willett.
“There must be a rising tide of support -- not just among the public -- but inside the Liberal party and in the Liberal caucus.”
“Already they're starting to make concessions just on the basis of 'well if New Zealand's done it, it kind of becomes inevitable here.'”
The various laws around the world governing marriage or unions of same sex couples are convoluted and complicated.
14 nations have fully legalised and recognised same-sex marriage.
Some nations perform civil unions or relationship registrations, granting most or all legal rights of married couples to these couples, whereas others have not legalised it but recognise marriages from other countries.
Other countries -- including Australia -- have neither legalised same-sex marriage nor do we recognise any performed overseas.
This has been the law since 2004, when the Marriage Act was changed to define marriage as between a man and a woman, and that no other marriages would be recognised.
“The fear was that people would go to Canada, get married, come back and then expect their relationships to be married and then when they weren't, taking court action to get them recognised.
They thought they'd pre-empt that by changing the law,” said Dr Willett.
Dr Willett says this is where the real push for same-sex marriage actually began. Around 20 to 30 per cent of the population at that stage supported same-sex marriage.
“And then as soon as they changed the law it started to shift,” he said.
“Not in the way they expected -- it didn't end the issue, it started the issue. And you start to get a really sharp increase in support, which is not at all what they expected.”
Historical events and circumstances play a significant role in when countries make big equality reforms.
While France has now legalised same-sex marriage, and they decriminalised homosexuality way back in the late 1700s amidst the French Revolution, the country did not grant women the vote until after World War Two.
New Zealand equalised voting rights first -- in 1893, but did not decriminalise homosexuality completely until 1986.
Australia followed New Zealand's lead on both counts -- mirroring both decisions within ten years (votes for women in 1902 and completely decriminalising homosexuality in 1997).
The US granted women the right to vote in 1920 but because the laws are decided by states, it wasn't until 2003 that homosexuality was decriminalised nationwide even though Illinois had already done so back in 1962.
“There are big international trends but the local response to those trends always varies a lot,” says Dr Willett.
“Nothing is inevitable in politics. However the trend is running hard and fast towards same-sex marriage. If the Liberals get elected in September, most people would have thought that would be the end of it, but in fact Tony Abbott conceding that he might allow a conscience vote after that could push it through.
It's certainly not inevitable -- the steam could go out of the issue, but it certainly feels like it's coming at some point.”