Australia celebrates ‘day for love’ as it allows same-sex marriage

A supporter of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality wears a shirt as he celebrates after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, at a rally in Sydney
A supporter of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality wears a shirt as he celebrates after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray

December 7, 2017

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia became the 26th nation to legalise same-sex marriage on Thursday, prompting cheers and singing from a packed parliament public gallery in a country where some states ruled homosexual acts to be illegal until just 20 years ago.

Lawmakers, who had cast aside a conservative push to allow religious objectors to refuse service to same-sex couples, waved rainbow flags and embraced on the floor of the chamber, after the overwhelming vote in favour of the bill.

Fewer than five of 150 MPs voted against it.

“What a day. What a day for love, for equality, for respect,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “It is time for more marriages.”

The law, which will also recognise same-sex marriages solemnised in foreign countries, takes effect from Saturday. Because a month’s notice is required for the state to recognise a marriage, the first legal same-sex unions will be in January.

Five-time Olympic gold-medal winner, the swimmer Ian Thorpe, who came out in 2014, said the law reflected contemporary Australia and would support people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual queer or intersex (LGBTQI).

“It will give each of us the sense of what modern Australia is, and is, in fact, the way that most of us see this country as being, and will allow LGBTQI people in our nation to know that fairness is one of our values,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Australians had overwhelmingly endorsed legalising same-sex marriage in a postal survey.

“What a moment for the country,” said Christine Forster, a Sydney councillor and the sister of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, standing among throngs of rainbow-clad campaigners for a “Yes” vote, outside parliament with her female partner.

She said she planned to go to her brother’s house to celebrate.

Abbott, who is still a member of parliament, was one of the most prominent “no” campaigners. He left the chamber before the vote.

The bill cleared the upper house last month.

During the debate in the lower house on Monday, a politician proposed to his same-sex partner.

Both Turnbull’s Liberal-National coalition government and the main opposition Labor Party had said they wanted to pass it by Dec. 7.

But despite the support of the main parties, religious organisations and conservative lawmakers had voiced strong opposition and proposed dozens of amendments.

During the debate, they pressed for broad protections for religious objectors, among them florists and bankers, to refuse service to same-sex couples.

But their efforts were rejected.

“These amendments, rather, are a shield for people and organisations that hold to a traditional view of marriage. They are not a sword to be wielded in the service of bigotry,” government MP Andrew Hastie said in parliament.

Amendments to permit lay celebrants to decline to solemnise same-sex marriages and businesses opposed to the unions to refuse service at wedding receptions were all defeated, one after the other, during three days of debate.

“Love has won, and it’s time to pop the bubbly,” Greens MP and same-sex marriage supporter Adam Bandt said.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Nick Macfie, Robert Birsel)

  • 101st Screaming Eagle

    I always thought they sounded gay when they spoke, guess I was right all along…

  • 52Montoya

    Australia celebrates anal sex!!

  • CCTexas

    For many many years I have held the Australian people in the highest regard. Now, not anymore. They have hit rock bottom, doomed their society and have created a sad sad culture.

  • Henry McKay

    Literally gay.

  • LuciusAnnaeusSeneca

    “Love has won, and it’s time to pop the bubbly”

    No, not love but lust and delusion, and the hangover will probably be a lot worse than expected. To extend the concept and legal status of the institution of marriage, a productive union through procreation) of male and female that has as its purpose the establishment of a family, to a homosexual union that produces nothing and is based on unnatural desires held by per an small minority of the public is demented and foolish. And unnecessary, as homosexual couples who wish to live together already have legal rights and protection.

    So why are the proponents of what is called “marriage equality” so anxious to promote this in Western society? The radical egalitarians among them claim to see no difference between a union of the opposite sexes and that of two of the same sex. The advocates of homosexual culture care little about that of non-homosexuals. And the believers in “progress” believe this one more step in their concept of an evolution of society. Toward what, they can’t coherently say. They care little about the long-term degradation of the social fabric of Western culture. Such collateral damage means little to them.

    One more sad episode in the decline of contemporary civilization.