Australia says yes to same-sex marriage in historic postal survey

Posted November 15, 2017

Australians have voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry in a landmark national survey.

But even ahead of the release of the results, conservative politicians inside the Australian parliament were preparing for a fight over how marriage equality would be legalized.

Australia has become increasingly isolated among Western nations on same-sex marriage, with Germany, the USA and Ireland recently joining countries including the United Kingdom and New Zealand in legalizing unions.

Advocates of same-sex unions criticized parliament for holding the postal vote - saying the nearly two-month campaign saw a surge in calls to mental-health helplines as opponents warned that changing the law could harm children and lead to radical sex education in schools.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called Smith's bill a good "starting point".

David Kalich, the head statistician at the Australian Bureau of Statistics in Canberra, will release the results from the postal survey at midday (NZ time).

Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Wales and Scotland.

If it is a yes from the public, then PM Malcolm Turnbull has said a private member's bill will be debated in Parliament, with the PM pushing for a vote before Christmas. "One where everyone's treated with respect and dignity, where we believe in a society built on commitment and responsibility", he told Sky News.

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Some conservatives have suggested they will put forward their marriage bill in the Coalition party room in two weeks, but senior ministers including influential conservative Mathias Cormann have protected the prime minister's position by insisting the parliament will choose which bill and amendments to allow.

Senator Wong said it was hard to listen to a bloke who had long argued against the views held by the majority of the community to turn around and talk about the tyranny of the majority.

The government's own National Mental Health Commission issued warnings about the surveys effects which were not acknowledged publicly. Ironically to ensure these protections, the bill would override existing state and territory anti-discrimination and freedom-of-speech laws.

She said the outcome will boost marriage equality campaigners in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

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