Australians have overwhelmingly voted in favour of same-sex marriage, with 7.8 million people voting ‘Yes’ in the postal survey on marriage equality.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has announced the result of the same-sex marriage postal vote today. Australia has voted in favour of same-sex marriage by a margin of 61.6% to 38.4%. Every state and territory in Australia had a majority of votes in favour. Over 12 and a half million votes were cast overall, with a participation rate of 79.5%. The result provides a strong mandate for same-sex marriage to be legalised in the Australian parliament.
Despite the result, same-sex marriage is not yet legally enshrined in Australian law. The issue now goes to a free vote in the Australian parliament. Members of parliament will vote on the issue. Most MPs have indicated that they will vote for the result their electorate produced. 133 of the 150 federal electorates recorded a majority result in favour of same sex marriage.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has pledged to have the issue resolved in Parliament before Christmas. In a press conference following the announcement, Turnbull told the media:
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.
A private members bill is scheduled to be put before Parliament on November 27. This would leave Parliament with just two sitting weeks before the Christmas break to have a bill negotiated and voted on.
There is an ongoing debate within the Coalition and the Parliament about the issue of religious freedoms and issues of free speech surrounding the issue. Two competing bills have been tabled, one from moderate senator Dean Smith and another by libertarian James Paterson.
The Dean Smith bill would allow churches to refuse to marry same-sex couples. Paterson’s bill extends the right to refuse to be involved in the same-sex marriage process to florists, bakers, musicians, and anyone else involved on religious or moral grounds.