Yesterday the Australian parliament voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, marking a historic moment for the country.
The overwhelming affirmative vote comes just three weeks after the national referendum showed that 61% of the public supported marriage equality. “This belongs to us all,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told The New York Times. “This is Australia: fair, diverse, loving and filled with respect. For every one of us this is a great day.” Turnbull has long been an advocate for gay marriage.
The new law means that same-sex couples from other countries will also be recognised. It broadens previous legislation which enabled same-sex couples equal rights on issues such as tax, employment and government benefits.
Local Hamish Taylor expressed his joy at the result. “It’s alleviated a life of shame and embarrassment of who I am,” he said. “It’s just validated everyone’s love here and around Australia.”
Evan Wolfson, the man who led the campaign for same-sex marriage in the United States, said “this is a big victory. It is a huge affirmation of the dignity of gay people in yet another country, and that will reverberate in the lives of people across Australia and the world.”
Even Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a supporter of traditional marriage, appeared to have a change of heart after hearing the news. “When it comes to same-sex marriage, some countries have introduced it via the courts, some via Parliament, and others — Ireland and now Australia — by vote of the people,” he said. “And that is the best way because it resolves this matter beyond doubt or quibble.”
The first legal same-sex weddings are expected in early January 2018.