Results of the much-anticipated and deeply contested Australian gay marriage vote have been released. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government put forward the postal survey in September, asking Australian citizens “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
Now, the results are in. The majority of voters have chosen marriage equality, with 61.6% voting “yes.”
Nearly 80% of voters – or 12.7 million people – cast their ballot, making it one of the biggest turn-outs for a voluntary vote in modern Western democratic history, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The ballot was initially created by those opposed to marriage equality in a bid to prevent its legalisation. However, the powerful “Yes” movement that gay marriage supporters organised derailed what was expected to be a win for the opposition.
In the past few days figures predicted a 60-65% win for gay marriage supporters, which proved correct.
The result is hoped to end the discrimination present in Australian society. Earlier this week Attorney-General George Brandis stressed the inherent need for change. “If you’re a gay man or gay woman and you go into a florist and say, ‘I’d like to buy a bunch of flowers’, it’s just wrong and illegal for the florist to say, ‘I don’t serve gay people’ – just as it would be wrong or illegal for the florist to say to an Indigenous person, ‘I don’t serve Indigenous people'”, he said.
The new legislation is expected to come into place by Christmas, enabling gay couples to wed in January 2018.