Almost 62 percent of the 12.7 million people who participated in the two-month postal survey voted in favour of allowing gay marriage, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced Photo: AFP
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Australians vote in favor of same-sex marriage

20 Comments
By David Millikin

Australians voted in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry, official results showed Wednesday, sending the task of legalising marriage equality to a deeply divided parliament.

Almost 62 percent of the 12.7 million people who participated in the two-month postal survey voted in favour of allowing gay marriage, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced at a press conference in Canberra. The "no" vote garnered 38.4 percent.

Nearly 80 percent of eligible voters took part in the poll, said the chief of the statistics bureau Davis Kalisch, adding: "Australians can have confidence these statistics reflect the view of the eligible population."

Same-sex couples could be able to marry by Christmas, but first parliament must adopt legislation giving the non-binding vote result the force of law.

Thousands of marriage equality supporters erupted into celebrations at rallies in major cities across Australia when the result was announced.

"This means everything, this means everything," repeated Chris, fighting back tears and hugging his partner Victor at a huge rally in Sydney.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a moderate conservative who supported legalisation, called the "yes" vote an "overwhelming" endorsement of marriage equality.

"They (Australians) have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality," Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

"They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love."

He reaffirmed that his government would now push ahead with passing legislation to change the marriage laws by Christmas.

Turnbull defended the ballot's legitimacy, and said he was confident of pushing the issue through parliament in a "conscience vote" where lawmakers are not obliged to vote along party lines.

But he must first battle hardline elements within his own ruling coalition who have demanded extensive "religious freedom" exemptions that would roll back discrimination laws.

This include allowing commercial service providers to reject same-sex weddings and let parents pull their children from school programmes they feel undermine heterosexual traditions.

Turnbull and the opposition Labor Party have backed a simpler draft bill that legalises gay marriage while allowing religious institutions to refuse to wed same-sex couples if they oppose the practice.

That bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate as early as Thursday.

A survey of federal politicians by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation published Tuesday found that 72 percent of the lower House of Representatives would support changes to marriage laws and in the Senate, 69 percent would approve the changes.

Wednesday's result was a historic accomplishment for proponents of marriage equality after more than a decade of political wrangling and two months of voting, which highlighted deep divisions in Australian society over the issue.

"Yes" campaigners complained gay people and their families were subjected to hate speech, while "no" supporters argued they were being accused of being bigots for not favouring such unions.

Even before the ballot papers were sent out in September, the debate turned toxic with a poster emblazoned "stop the fags" put up in central Melbourne and flyers describing homosexuality as "a curse of death" distributed in suburban Sydney.

Amid public outcry over the hostile discourse, the government had to rush through legalisation to introduce safeguards during the campaign process, including tighter advertising restrictions.

Conservative opponents vowed before Wednesday's result was announced to pursue their campaign for exemptions from the eventual legalisation of gay marriage, which they say will lead to attacks on their freedoms of speech and religion.

"If a 'yes' vote is returned, we will do what we can to guard against restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to defend parents' rights, and to protect Australian kids from being exposed to radical LGBTIQ sex and gender education in the classrooms," Lyle Shelton, a spokesman for the Coalition for Marriage, said at the weekend.

"We promise our supporters that no matter the result, we will continue to work to defend Australian families," he said.

© 2017 AFP

©2017 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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Good news, another country about to join the 21st century.

13 ( +19 / -6 )

Took long enough ! Congrats !

15 ( +20 / -5 )

That bible-bashing bigot Abbott had claimed that a 40% vote for no would be a moral victory. In the end, they couldn't even get that!

It should never have come to this non-binding vote which has cost a helluva lot of money to organize. And this has backfired into the bigots' faces.

However, I would take this as just the first step, albeit a big one. It ain't over till it's over.

Congratulations.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Good result, but this poll is not legally binding, so let's hope the MPs now do the right thing

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Major setback for Tony Abbott and the church brigade.

Also a friendly reminder to the religious minorities who've recently moved to Australia that their adopted country supports equal rights for all and that's not going to change.

Still a waste of aud120M though.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Congratulations, Australia! I hope the government now lives up to the promise.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Amazing news!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Good on the Aussies. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, their government does about this now, as it was a non-binding postal survey.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It was a colossal wait of money as polls consistently gave this result, just the bigoted right tried to fend off the majority opinion, with complicated and expensive postal votes in the hope people couldn't be bothered. Well they were bothered enough to use democracy and it would be a grave mistake for politicians to claim it as non binding.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why anyone would have a problem with this. The family unit is secure, nobody's being hurt or being forced to marry within their own gender or outside of their comfort zone. Step by step, equality is being achieved.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Well Done Ausie Land.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

That bible-bashing bigot Abbott had claimed that a 40% vote for no would be a moral victory. In the end, they couldn't even get that!

"The "no" vote garnered 38.4 percent."

Where did you study mathematics?

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Regarding basic mathematics.

38.4% is not the 40% Abbott claimed would be a moral victory for "no".

So, big fail all round. If not epic.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I think it is great that the majority of Australians are openminded enough to accept same-sex marriage and let them be acknowledged as a couple. However, this is just a small step. It still has to get through parliament. And, the christian churches, who have a strong footing in parliament will be pulling out all stops to get it quashed.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If a 'yes' vote is returned, we will do what we can to guard against restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of religion

As long as people are allowed to voice their opposition to this ( as this person did ) and religious institutions are not forced to conduct same-sex marriages, there are no freedoms being infringed by this likely legislation

Why do these people keep banging on about freedom? I wish they'd have the honestly to march under their true banners.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

another country about to join the 21st century

But marriage seems so last century.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

kawabegawa198:

"The "no" vote garnered 38.4 percent."

Where did you study mathematics?

You probably won't know the school I attended but I did continue to attend mathematics courses during my undergraduate and postgraduate days at universities which consistently appears in the international top 10 list. You asked, so just saying. As a child, I also learnt that 38.4

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Last post was cut off.....

38.4

3 ( +4 / -1 )

38.4 is less than 39. If we're going to round up numbers to the nearest integer give or take a two, then Brexit would never have happened. And 75% of Tony Abbott's constituency disagreed with him.

Deal with it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Congrats Australia, love is love no matter what.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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