Australians Celebrate After an Overwhelming 'Yes' for Same-Sex Marriage
Australians have voted overwhelmingly for same-sex marriage, paving the way for legislation by the end of 2017 and sparking rainbow celebrations on Wednesday, with people wearing wedding dresses and sequined suits and declaring âour love is realâ.
Australia will become the 26th nation to formalize the unions if the legislation is passed by parliament, which is expected despite some vocal opposition within the governmentâs conservative right wing.
Thousands of people in a central Sydney park broke into a loud cheer, hugged and cried as Australiaâs chief statistician revealed live over a big screen that 61.6% of voters surveyed favoured marriage equality, with 38.4% against.
Australian Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe, who came out as gay three years ago, said the result was a huge relief.
âIt means that the way you feel for another person, whoever that may be, is equal,â Thorpe told reporters at the Sydney celebrations.
The voluntary poll is non-binding but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull immediately said he would fulfill a pledge to raise a bill in parliament with the aim of passing laws by Christmas.
Turnbull played down concerns of a split in his coalition government over the policy as the conservative faction presses for amendments to protect religious freedoms that discriminate against same-sex couples.
âIt is unequivocal, it is overwhelming. They have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality,â Turnbull told reporters in Canberra after the survey results were announced. âThey voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love.â
The result marks a watershed moment for gay rights in Australia, where it was illegal in some states to engage in homosexual activity until 1997.
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âItâs a gâday. Way to go Australia,â tweeted U.S. TV host Ellen DeGeneres, who is married to Australian actress Portia de Rossi in the United States.
Almost 80% of the countryâs eligible voters took part in the sur vey â" a higher voter turnout than Britainâs Brexit vote and Irelandâs same-sex marriage referendum.
Mark Barry, 59, wiped away tears as he took in the result with his partner of 35 years, Gerrard Boller.
âI know a celebrant who is going to be very happy about this,â Barry told Reuters.
Irish-born Qantas Airways (qubsf) Chief Executive Alan Joyce, one of the few openly gay business leaders in Australia, told the Sydney crowd, many of whom sheltered from the hot sun under rainbow umbrellas, that the result was âan amazing outcomeâ and urged Turnbull to move quickly on legislation.
Turnbull, under pressure amid a citizenship crisis that has cost him his deputy and the governmentâs majority in parliament, finds his leadership tested again as the marriage equality bill enters parliament, possibly as early as later on Wednesday.
The conservativesâ planned amendments to the bill would allow private businesses to refuse services like wedding cakes for same-sex weddings by objecting on religious grounds.
But political analysts said the resounding âyesâ vote presented Turnbull with his first opportunity in months to exert decisive control. At least one of the conservative lawmakers has announced plans to switch to supporting the legislation, given the strength of the public vote.
Nick Economou, a political scientist at Monash University, said Turnbull âshould feel emboldened by the result and this is the sort of thing he has been looking for to show some assertive leadershipâ.
The ânoâ campaign had sought to leverage powerful local religious organisations in a survey campaign that was criticised by some in the âyesâ camp as divisive and aggressive.
Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said he was âdeeply disappointed that the likely result will be legislation to further deconstruct marriage and family in Australia.âSource: Google News