Australians have overwhelmingly voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in a historic poll. The non-binding postal vote showed 61.6% of people favour allowing same-sex couples to wed, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.
Jubilant supporters have been celebrating in public spaces, waving rainbow flags and singing and dancing. A bill to change the law was introduced into the Senate late on Wednesday. It will now be debated for amendments.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government would aim to pass legislation in parliament by Christmas. “[Australians] have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality,” Mr Turnbull said after the result was announced.
“They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love.”
The issue only went to a voluntary postal vote after a long and bitter debate about amending Australia’s Marriage Act.
That’s where we’ll leave today’s rolling coverage of the historic same sex marriage survey.
It was a controversial, expensive, and often traumatic exercise which in the end confirmed Australians supported marriage equality in numbers similar to those found by repeated polling.
But it won. 61.6% of people who took part in the non-binding postal survey said Yes. The No campaign got 38.4% – lower than the 40% that former prime, Tony Abbott said would deliver a “moral victory”.
No campaign leader, Lyle Shelton, blamed the media and the “relentlessness” of the Yes campaigners.
Some MPs said they would still vote no in parliament, or would abstain, but 133 of the 150 federal electorates returned a majority support for marriage equality.
Malcolm Turnbull and George Brandis hope and expect marriage equality will be law by Christmas.
Senator James Paterson gave up on his controversial rival bill, revealed just a few days ago, conceding the cross-party bill proposed by Dean Smith had the support required.
The Smith bill has been formally introduced in the Senate and Christopher Knaus is continuing to blog over on our regular Politics Live blog. Tomorrow the Smith bill will be debated and all the key developments will be covered by Politics Live.
Tonight Australia’s LGBTIQ community and its family, friends, and supporters, will celebrate, or perhaps just sigh with relief.