A decisive majority of Australians have voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, paving the way for the country to become the world’s 26th nation to recognize gay and lesbian unions.
More than three-quarters of Australia’s eligible voters took part in a survey administered by the country’s Bureau of Statistics Wednesday morning local time. The survey is non-binding but the Australian government pledged before the vote to put a proposal to parliament should voters decide in favor of legalization.
Out of 12.7 million voters, 61.6% voted “yes” and 38.4% voted “no,” according to officials.
During a post-vote press conference, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lauded his fellow citizens for voting in favor of “equality.”
Gay man facing deportation despite being legally married
“They voted overwhelmingly for fairness, for commitment, for love and now it’s our job, as the Australian parliament, all of us here to get on with it and get this done before Christmas,” Turnbull said.
The national survey became a point of contention ever since it was introduced.
Advocates for same-sex marriage argued that the issue should be decided by parliament, not via national referendum. Those opposed to gay marriage contended that the measure would limit religious freedoms for Christians and Muslims who wish to live by the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Some criticized the survey for its steep price tag. Despite not being a binding resolution, it cost upward of $97 million.
But following the vote, the mood was one of celebration.
Thousands of supporters who had gathered in a central Sydney park broke into deafening cheers, hugging and crying as results came in over a big screen.
“Love has had a landslide victory,” Alex Greenwich, the co-chairman of Australian Marriage Equality, tweeted.
American comedian Ellen DeGeneres sent congratulations from the other side of the world.
“It’s a g’day,” she tweeted. “Way to go Australia.”
With News Wire Services
Send a Letter to the Editor