Emphatic Australian 'Yes' to same-sex marriage

AFP
Emotional celebrations erupted across Australia on Wednesday as voters emphatically endorsed same-sex marriage after more than a decade of divisive debate.
AFP
Reuters

Members of Sydney's gay community react as they celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a pub located on Sydney's Oxford street, Australia, November 15, 2017.

Emotional celebrations erupted across Australia on Wednesday as voters emphatically endorsed same-sex marriage after more than a decade of divisive debate, and political leaders took the first steps to enshrine the historic shift in law.

Thousands of marriage equality supporters took to parks and squares across the country, hugging, dancing and singing when the results of a two-month-long postal survey were announced.

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

Almost 62 percent of the 12.7 million people who participated voted “yes” to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

Just 38.4 percent voted “no,” according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which carried out the poll.

Irish-born Qantas Airlines chief Alan Joyce, who is gay and campaigned for the “yes” campaign, also fought back tears as he spoke of his delight.

“I was so proud of Ireland in May 2015 when they became the first nation in the world to vote for marriage equality ... But today I am even more proud of Australia, the country of my selection,” he said in Sydney.

Nearly 80 percent of eligible voters took part in the poll, with the “yes” vote winning a majority in all of Australia’s states and territories.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a moderate conservative who backed the “yes” camp, hailed the result of the non-binding vote and vowed to move a bill in favor of marriage equality by Christmas.

Australians “voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love,” Turnbull said at a press conference in Canberra.

Within hours of the vote result, Dean Smith, a senator from Turnbull’s Liberal Party who is gay, introduced a bill that would legalize gay marriage while allowing religious institutions and clergy to refuse to celebrate same-sex unions if it conflicts with their beliefs.

Hardline opponents in Turnbull’s party have pressed for more extensive religious protections to allow commercial service providers to reject same-sex weddings and let parents pull their children from school programmes they feel undermine heterosexual traditions.


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