The long wait is finally over for the gay community in Australia, after campaigning for same-sex marriage to be legalized. On Thursday, the Australian Parliament finally voted to legalize same-sex marriage, changing the definition of marriage from solely between a man and a woman to “a union of two people.”
The vote was welcomed with jubilation by a majority of federal politicians and gay rights supporters.
Inside Parliament House in Canberra, the celebration was clear especially for the parliamentarians who voted in favor of same-sex marriage. The public gallery of the House of Representatives erupted with applause and cheers following hours of debate and emotional speeches.
“This is Australia: fair, diverse, loving and filled with respect for everyone,” said an effusive Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as he introduced the bill for a final vote.
“This is a great day, it belongs to every Australian.”
Australia is the 24th in the world to allow same-sex couples to marry.
LGBT Groups Hail Historic Vote
Aside from the lawmakers, LGBT groups around the world welcomed the historic vote, describing it as a big victory for the gay community. Founder of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson after the announcement said the legalization was a big victory not only for the LGBTQ community but also those advocating marriage equality and supporting LGBT rights in general.
“We came, we saw, and love finally conquered,” co-chair of the Equality Campaign Alex Greenwich told reporters.
“We thank all Australians for their support for saying yes, we thank all those who have campaigned for many years, for over 10 years, for fairness and equality.”
Many Australians around the country also celebrated the momentous vote with jubilation. Gay rights supporters cheered in front of Parliament House, raising their rainbow flags.
Many prominent Australians also lauded the legalization of same-sex unions.
Five-time Olympic gold-medal winner, swimmer Ian Thorpe, who came out in 2014, said the law reflected contemporary Australia and would support people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, 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,” Thorpe said in Canberra.
Survey Says Yes
Thursday’s vote comes three weeks after a majority of the Australian public voted to legalize same-sex marriage as part of a national postal survey lasting two months. The turnout of the vote showed that 61.6% of voters approved of a change to the law to allow couples of the same-sex to marry. Australia’s chief statistician, David Kalisch, announced the results at a press conference in Canberra, revealing 7,817,247 people voted in favour and 4,873,987 voted against.