Australia has voted to approve gay marriage after a majority of the population voted ‘yes’ in a historic postal survey on same-sex unions.
Close to eight million people – representing 61.6 per cent of the population – voted ‘Yes’, while 4.8 million – representing 38.4 per cent of the population – voted ‘No’. A further 36,000 responses were ‘unclear’.
The returned ballots amounted for 79.5 per cent of the population, a strong response from the public to the controversial $122 million postal vote.
Australian Bureau of Statistics boss David Kalisch revealed the result to parliament in Canberra on Wednesday, prompting widespread celebrations as supporters gathered at iconic landmarks in every capital city of Australia.
Tens of thousands of people adorned in rainbow flags and wearing ‘Yes’ badges cheered outside of the State Library of Victoria, Prince Alfred Park in Sydney and Queens Garden in Brisbane as the result was announced.
The onus will now be on politicians to pass a bill in parliament to legalise same-sex marriage, allowing Australia to join a host of other countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden and Canada who have already changed their marriage laws.
Scroll down for video
Australia has voted to approve gay marriage after a majority of the population voted ‘yes’ in a controversial postal vote. Celebrations broke out across the nation immediately after the result was announced (State Library of Victoria pictured)
Close to eight million people – representing 61.6 per cent of the population – voted ‘Yes’, bringing one girl in a rainbow wig to tears
Celebration: Tens of thousands of people adorned in rainbow flags and wearing ‘Yes’ badges gathered at iconic landmarks in every capital city of Australia
Close to eight million people voted ‘Yes’ while 4.8 million voted ‘No’. NSW was the only state to record less than a 60 per cent result in favour of same-sex marriage
LOVE: Marriage equality supporters kissed in Prince Alfred Park, Sydney, as the historic result was announced
Two men dressed as brides in wedding gowns kissed moments before learning they were one step closer to being able to legally marry
Lesbian Brisbane couple Kate Wildermuth and Kristen Watt (pictured) were not able to celebrate the historic result asKate was in hospital for IVF treatment
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull praised the nation for voting ‘overwhelmingly “Yes” for marriage equality, for fairness, for commitment and for love’.
‘Now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do and get this done, this year before Christmas,’ Mr Turnbull said.
‘That must be our commitment. We ask the Australian people for their view. This was an unprecedented exercise in democracy.
‘Now, I know that many people, a minority obviously, voted “No”. But we are a fair nation. There is nothing more Australian than a fair go. There is nothing more Australian than equality and mutual respect.
‘Every one has had their say. That’s what we pledged at the last election. Many people stood in our way. The Labor Party, number of people on the crossbench and others. They didn’t want up toss have their say. We did.
‘We must respect the voice of the people. We ask them for their view, and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal. It is overwhelming.’
Bill Shorten was at the forefront of celebrations in Melbourne, wearing a ‘Yes’ vote badge and raising his fist high in the air
‘This is for all of us’: TV star and marriage equality campaigner Magda Szubanski gave a passionate speech after the result was announced
People draped in rainbow flags showed off their quirky hair styles as they celebrated outside the State Library of Victoria
Some marriage equality supporters broke down in tears as they linked arms and waved rainbow flags proudly in the air
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said a bill would be introduced to parliament quickly, with the intention of having legislation passed before Christmas.
‘If we were not to implement a decision on marriage equality, the nation would throw up its hands and give up on the parliament,’Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told a meeting of opposition senators in Canberra.
Liberal senator Dean Smith plans to introduce a bill to allow same-sex marriage on Thursday.
The Senate will be asked on Wednesday to support a move to introduce draft laws allowing same-sex marriage on Thursday.
Liberal senator Dean Smith lodged a notice of motion for the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill to be brought on, one day after the result of the national survey is released.
The motion, co-signed by Labor and crossbench senators, also seeks to put the bill at the top of the schedule for the final fortnight of parliament starting on November 27.
The motion also seeks for the bill to have precedence over all government and general business.
The controversial $122 million postal vote lasted three months and saw ugly confrontations between parties from both sides of the debate (pictured is a slogan from the ‘No’ vote)
The motion also seeks for the bill to have precedence over all government and general business
Despite constant campaigning and an overpowering desire to get married, one lesbian couple revealed why they would not be out on the streets celebrating the historic vote.
Kate Wildermuth and Kristen Watt will be in hospital on Tuesday when the outcome of the postal vote is announced – with Ms Wildermuth expected to be out-cold on anaesthetic as the pair prepare to start their family.
The Brisbane couple told The Australian they didn’t plan for the IVF procedure which will make them mums to fall on the same day as the vote – but instead like to think of it as fate.
In September, Canberra businesswoman Madlin Sims (pictured) fired an employee after she wrote ‘It’s okay to vote no’ on Facebook
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten (pictured with family during 2017 Mardi Gras) said anything other than a ‘Yes’ decision would cause chaos across the country
Emotional embrace: A couple passionately hugged each other immediately after the result was announced
Timeline of the controversial same-sex marriage plebiscite
THE HIGH COURT CHALLENGES
Two groups of marriage equality advocates lodged papers with the High Court on August 10 challenging the postal survey, arguing the ABS did not have the power to run what is effectively a ballot, and the government couldn’t spend the $122 million needed to fund it, without parliamentary approval. The court dismissed both bids on September 7 and more than 16 million forms were sent out from September 12.
THE ELECTORAL ROLL CHANGES
After both sides of the debate urged Australians to have their say, almost one million changes were made to the electoral roll ahead of the survey. The ABS also revealed on August 25 there were 90,000 new names on the roll.
THE EXTREME POSTERS
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, on August 21, blasted a poster spotted in a Melbourne laneway carrying the slogan ‘stop the fags’, which appeared to trace back to the message board of a neo-Nazi website. He posted on Facebook that Labor had opposed the survey ‘because we feared exactly this kind of hurtful filth would emerge’. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told 2Day FM he was offended by such posters while defending the vast majority of people who do not agree with same-sex marriage, as not homophobic.
THE TELEVISION ADS
Groups on both sides of the debate produced television ads, including the Coalition for Marriage, whose piece, launch on August 30, featured three mothers concerned about how same-sex marriage would affect what was taught and promoted in schools.The Equality Campaign rebutted some claims in the Coalition’s ad with their own piece, featuring prominent doctor Kerryn Phelps.
THE CELEBRITY OPINIONS
Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe joined the ‘Yes’ campaign on August 12, saying it was important for ‘the message it sends to a young me’. Singer Kylie Minogue and Hollywood stars Chris Hemsworth and Russell Crowe are among others to have backed same-sex marriage on social media, while Wallabies star Israel Folau tweeted he would not support same-sex marriage.
A ‘Vote NO’ message was written in the sky over Sydney on September 17, while a simple ‘NO’ was written above Melbourne on October 10. The skywriting appeared to be crowdfunded through a Go Fund Me page.
THE MACKLEMORE PERFORMANCE
American rapper Macklemore became immersed in the debate ahead of singing his 2012 chart-topper Same Love at the NRL grand final on October 1. Former prime minister Tony Abbott and right-wing independent MP Bob Katter slammed the NRL for inviting the rapper to perform, saying footy fans should not be subjected to a politicised grand final. Meanwhile Prime Minister Turnbull said he looked forward to the performance and Attorney-General George Brandis labelled Mr Abbott’s comments ‘bizarre’.
THE ABBOTT HEADBUTT
Mr Abbott revealed on September 21 he had been headbutted by a same-sex marriage supporter in Hobart. The 38-year-old attacker, who was charged with common assault, was later revealed as DJ Astro Labe who said while he had been wearing a ‘yes’ sticker, the attack was inspired by a personal hatred for Mr Abbott and had nothing to do with same-sex marriage.
THE WOMAN FIRED FOR VOTING NO
In September, a Canberra woman was fired for saying ‘It’s okay to vote no’ on Facebook, with her boss Madlin Sims calling it ‘homophobic hate speech’. Ms Sims, who runs a party entertainment company, said the woman was fired because she was ‘extremely out and proud about her views on homosexuals.’ ‘As someone who has an responsibility to the vulnerable people we work with, could not risk her voicing those opinions to any children of ours,’ she said.
People across Australia attended rallies, with ‘Yes’ events held in Melbourne on August 26 and Sydney and Brisbane on September 10 attracting thousands of people, while an eight-strong counter-protest took place in Brisbane. About 20 same-sex marriage opponents turned out for a Straight Lives Matter rally in Sydney on September 23, while two women who locked lips during an anti-same-sex marriage event in Melbourne on the same day were dragged from a stage by security.
THE NO CAMPAIGNERS
Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi said on August 22 that people involved in the ‘Yes’ campaign had been ‘militant and intolerant’ of those who favour a ‘No’ vote. Later in September reports emerged a contractor for a Canberra kids parties business was sacked for adding the message ‘it’s OK to vote no’ to her Facebook profile photo.