In a huge victory for equality, the results of Australia’s massive same-sex marriage postal survey have confirmed that most citizens support legalising same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday, the Bureau of Statistics announced that 61.6% of Australians said ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage, while 38.4% said ‘no’.
The victory was a decisive one; 12.7 million people participated in the two-month-long poll, which equates to an impressive 79.5% turnout of the country’s eligible voters.
“This high response rate far exceeds expectations and compares extremely favourably with other voluntary exercises conducted around the world thanks to the strong interest and engagement of eligible Australians in this topic,” said Australian Statistician, David W. Kalisch.
The news was met with celebrations across Australia. Billboards were unveiled in some cities announcing and commemorating the outcome of the poll.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull quickly responded to the results: “The Australian people have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality. They voted yes for fairness, they voted yes for commitment, they voted yes for love.”
Although not a biding survey, Turnbull promised to move to pass legislation in parliament to legalise same-sex marriage by the end of the year.
“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,” he said.
It was reported that a private member’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage, co-sponsored by both major parties, was already introduced in the Senate late on Wednesday.
A number of public figures and celebrities took to social media to express their delight at the results: Singer Kylie Minogue tweeted: “Love is love, always was love, always will be love,” while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added: “Love wins in Australia! Thrilled to hear Australians have voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.”
LGBT and human rights group had initially opposed the idea of holding the survey, fearing that it would be expensive and would lead to a spike in homophobia and would further divide communities.
Earlier this month, one LGBT group said it had documented over 220 examples of anti-LGBTI hate speech during the voting period. These ranged from individual posts on social media pages to neo-Nazi groups plastering posters in various public locations.