Australians have voted for the introduction of equal marriage with 61.6% voting YES.
A national survey was held to test the views of the country and the result is now likely to force politicians to bring forward legislation to introduce the laws necessary to make the change. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the government will ‘facilitate’ a bill to make same-sex marriage legal by the end of the year.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics posted survey papers to all eligible Australians on 13th September with one simple question:
Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?
Over 12.7million surveys were returned, approximately 79.5% of the eligible population. There were over 4.8 million ‘No’ votes.
Jack McAllister moved from Scotland to live in Brisbane several years ago and explains why he was proud to vote Yes:
“I’ve lived in Australia for almost 10 years now, at times there are mixed opinions about LGBT people, causing me not to tell everyone that I’m gay. The majority of people are all for equal rights and some people don’t have an opinion about it. I believe everyone is equal and everyone is entitled to the same rights – that’s why I voted yes.”
Hannah Bardell MP, who has championed equal rights for LGBT people in Scotland and the UK, told us:
“I’m delighted to hear Australia has backed equal marriage by such a significant majority. I have many family and friends in the LGBT community in Australia for whom this has been a long time coming.”
“I’m also very pleased to hear the Prime Minister will legislate before Christmas, a speedy move that is most welcome.”
“Of course, LGBT equality is not just about marriage equality and I hope, like Scotland, Australia will continue to develop its equality legislation and approach for young LGBT people who still suffer from bullying and discrimination at school.”
The Australian survey is not a binding vote, as with some referendums in other countries. However, politicians are now under significant pressure and are likely to allow a private member’s bill to be laid before the Australian Parliament, in which lawmakers will have a free vote. So although the people have had their say, it’s now down to the politicians to make it law.
Jack commented further about an often bitter campaign which has seen the Coalition for Marriage in Australia, the Catholic Church and some politicians make anti-LGBT claims. He said:
“There has been quite a lot of debating and campaigning on both sides. For example sending text messages encouraging people to vote and also lots of ads on TV and radio for both yes and no voters. There have been people on the news saying that it’s bad for children to have two same-sex parents and how that would have an effect on them in society and at school. But I’m glad all my friends and relatives have been very supportive and they all want equal rights for everyone. I’m really pleased that one day I might be able to get married here in my adopted home.”
The full breakdown of all Australian states and territories is below: