Australia votes to legalize same-sex marriage

Nearly 80 percent of the Australian population participated in the voluntary postal survey, which asked, "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?"

SYDNEY, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Australians have voted overwhelmingly for same-sex marriage, paving the way for legislation by the end of 2017 and sparking rainbow celebrations on Wednesday, with people wearing wedding dresses and sequined suits and declaring "our love is real".

"Obviously I'll be voting no - but in the end this is not about the politicians, it's about the people". Marriage equality legislation marks just the beginning in the fight for justice for all LGBTQ citizens of Australia and of the world, and some LGBTQ activists initially feared the campaign to cast votes for same-sex marriage would prompt a harshly negative response from conservatives. LGBTI Australians and their supporters celebrated well into the night after the survey results were released, finally ending a divisive three-month campaign.

Thousands of people in a Sydney park broke into a loud cheer, hugged and cried as Australia's chief statistician revealed live over a big screen that 61.6 percent of voters surveyed favoured marriage equality, with 38.4 percent against.

'We've seen them eroded overseas - we will not let that happen in Australia'. Parliamentary debate to legalise same-sex marriage could begin as early as tomorrow.

Some Coalition members also want specific laws to protect those with "traditional" views on marriage from discrimination and vilification laws.

'It's been a battle but actually today the battle to make sure that the freedoms of all Australians are protected still goes on, ' she said.

The bill will need the approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives before it passes into law.

While Smith bill already allows churches to refuse to Wednesday same-sex couples, the Paterson bill would have allowed anyone with a religious or moral objection to refuse to participate in the process - including florists, bakers and musicians.


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