THE LAND Down Under has officially voiced its overwhelming support for marriage equality, as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced a Yes vote for same-sex marriage on Wednesday.
After a postal survey which saw almost eight in ten eligible Australian voters cast ballots, the ABS announced that 61.6 percent of the country was in favour of legislating marriage equality, compared with 38.4 percent against.
The result is the culmination of a heated and controversial campaign, which has cost taxpayers AU$122 million (US$92.6 million) and seen fierce public debate between the LGBTQI community and conservatives who opposed a change to the legal definition of marriage.
Responding to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”, some 7.82 million Australians voted Yes, compared with 4.87 million for No, reported the ABS.
Pro-marriage equality advocates gathered in public parks in urban centres, with tears and celebration when the Australian chief statistician David Kalisch declared a decisive win for the Yes campaign.
“At a state and territory level, every state and territory recorded a majority Yes result. Every state and territory recorded a majority Yes result over 60 percent, with the exception of New South Wales,” said Kalisch in his speech.
“It gives me great pleasure to return these results back to the community today.”
“We’re getting married this time next year” ❤️
— ABC Brisbane (@abcbrisbane) November 15, 2017
— Tom Cowie (@tom_cowie) November 14, 2017
“They have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality,” said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is of the right-wing Liberal Party, in the capital Canberra. “They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love.”
Australia is one of the last Western countries to have gay marriage, despite polls consistently showing public opinion is in favour of the change. In the Asia-Pacific, New Zealand and Taiwan have already legalised same-sex marriage.
A number of high-profile figures overseas celebrated the win on Wednesday, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, American TV host Ellen DeGeneres – herself married to Australian actress Portia de Rossi, and London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Love wins in Australia! Thrilled to hear Australians have voted in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage. #MarriageEquality
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 15, 2017
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) November 14, 2017
Yes!!!!! Congrats Australia! Every step taken is one closer to World Peace! Love love love you! Proud to be Australian by association lol ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/1zO5kSjMS7
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) November 14, 2017
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) November 15, 2017
Others described the moment they heard the result with jubilation.
Was shaking when I finally summoned the courage to come out to dad years ago. He was supportive, but quiet. Later, we had a huge fight about gay marriage and didn’t talk for months.
He just sent me this. pic.twitter.com/Ap4akaZ6Ah
— David Mack (@davidmackau) November 14, 2017
Someone on my tube yells: “AUSTRALIA JUST LEGALISED GAY MARRIAGE!”
The carriage cheers and claps.
— Mark Di Stefano 🤙🏻 (@MarkDiStef) November 14, 2017
While the survey was a non-binding vote, PM Turnbull said it was time for parliament “get on with it” – presumably referring to passing a bill on same-sex marriage – before the end of the year.
“Before Christmas, that must be our commitment.”