Celebrations swept across Australia Wednesday, November 15, as voters emphatically endorsed same-sex marriage after more than a decade of divisive debate, and political leaders immediately began moves to enshrine the historic shift in law by Christmas, AFP reports.
Thousands of marriage equality supporters took to parks and squares across the vast country, hugging, dancing and singing under clouds of glitter when the results of the two-month-long postal survey were announced.
Revellers wrapped in rainbow colours swarmed the entertainment districts of Sydney, Melbourne and other cities, closing streets as the party continued late into the evening.
“This means everything, this means everything,” shouted one partygoer named Chris at a huge rally in Sydney, fighting back tears and hugging his partner Victor.
“It has been fantastic. I have been with my partner for 35 years and he was so joyed up that he burst into tears,” added another reveller, Gerry Boller.
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 openly gay and campaigned strongly 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 pass a bill legalising marriage equality “before Christmas”.
Australians “voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love”, Turnbull said, adding that he had already been invited to “stacks” of gay weddings once the law takes hold.
“Now it is up to us, here in the Parliament of Australia… to get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do and get this done, this year, before Christmas.”
Within hours of the vote result, Dean Smith, a Senator from Turnbull’s Liberal Party who is gay, introduced a bill that would legalise gay marriage while allowing religious institutions and clergy to refuse to celebrate same-sex unions if they conflict 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.
They have support notably from Muslim and some conservative Christian communities which returned a high percentage of “no” votes in the survey.
But Turnbull rejected those calls this week and he and the opposition Labor Party are expected to back a bill based on Smith’s proposal with a “conscience vote” in the two houses of parliament.
“We will have a bill that will deliver on the instructions the Australian people have given us to change the law to allow same-sex couples to marry. That is our job. It is over to us now,” he said.
The post Celebrations As Australians Back Gay Marriage appeared first on LATEST NIGERIAN NEWS BREAKING HEADLINES NEWSPAPERS.