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Posted at: Dec 8, 2017, 1:01 AM; last updated: Dec 8, 2017, 1:01 AM (IST)

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

Australia celebrates ‘day for love’ as it allows same-sex marriage
Liberal Members of Parliament Warren Entsch (L) and Den Smith celebrate in the Federal Parliament in Canberra on Thursday. AFP

Sydney, December 7

Gay couples will be able to legally marry in Australia after a same-sex marriage Bill sailed through Parliament today, ending decades of political wrangling.

There were loud cheers, hugs and sustained clapping in the 150-seat lower House of Representatives when all but four MPs voted in support of marriage equality, after the upper house Senate passed the bill 43-12 last week.

“What a day for love, for equality, for respect! Australia has done it,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the House. “Every Australian had their say and they said it is fair, get on with it!”

The historic reforms will commence on Saturday, when same-sex couples can lodge a notice to marry. They will then have to wait a month before tying the knot.

Labour opposition leader Bill Shorten hailed the passing of the Bill as a uniting moment for Australia, adding: “Now is the time for healing”.

“A time to build, a time to love, and is now at last a time for marriage equality,” he said.  Same-sex marriage campaigners converged outside parliament in the nation’s capital Canberra to celebrate the historic occasion, which sees Australia join more than 20 other countries in recognising such unions.

The Bill was tabled in parliament by the conservative government after Australians last month endorsed the reforms in a controversial voluntary postal vote.

Nearly 80 per cent of eligible voters took part in the poll, and almost 62% of the 12.7 million people who participated chose “yes” on their postal ballots. The ballot had been called by Turnbull, a moderate who backed gay marriage, in the face of opposition from hardliners who refused to back a national plebiscite on the issue.

It was opposed by proponents of same-sex marriage, who wanted direct legislative action. — AFP

Around the world

  • Australia on Thursday became the 26th nation to legalise same-sex marriage after Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, US
  • In some of these countries, such as Mexico and Britain, marriage is only open to same-sex couples in some regions. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not allowed. The first country to legalise same-sex marriage was the Netherlands in 2001
  • No countries in Asia allow same-sex couples to marry or enter civil unions of any kind. In May, Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia

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