The Canadian government has indicated its acceptance of gay marriages by deciding not to appeal a landmark decision on the issue by a provincial court in Ontario.

The Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, made the announcement after a cabinet meeting.

The federal government in Ottawa plans to draft legislation to legalise same-sex unions and to ask the country's Supreme Court to rule on its constitutionality before allowing MPs a free vote on the Bill.

Last week, a court in Ontario set aside the heterosexual definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.