Australia’s LGBTQ+ community are celebrating the country’s decision to follow in the footsteps of other progressive and liberal western nations by voting in favour of same-sex marriage. When the results were announced at 10am in Canberra, it was revealed 61.6% (7,817,247) voted ‘yes’ in the ground-breaking national postal survey.
Of 150 Federal Electoral Divisions, only 17 recorded a majority ‘no’ vote, whilst over 70% of the populations of Corangamite and Ballarat voted in their droves in favour. Emotional and joyous scenes ensued after 79.5% participated in the survey, almost guaranteeing that the landmark decision will be immune to any significant political or social challenges in the near future.
Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has fully recognised the ‘unequivocal’ vote, stating that the country’s parliament has an obligation to legally enshrine marriage equality by Christmas.
“Australians have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality. They have voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love,” Turnbull said. Such monumental support has heralded another advancement in Australian society, vindicating the belief in the country’s values of social justice.
Kylie Minogue was played as thousands gathered in towns and cities across Australia proudly waving their rainbow flags in elation.
“Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate”, were the poignant words of opposition leader, Bill Shorten, echoing the beliefs of millions of Australians. In accordance with this declaration, several people have also already taken advantage of their long overdue parity of marriage by proposing to their partners, many of whom have waited decades for such rights to be achieved.
It is important to remember the struggles prior to this historic day. Apathetic beliefs by politicians have previously resulted in a failure to recognise the liberal attitudes of the majority of the Australian electorate. Furthermore, prior to this survey, there have been 22 unsuccessful attempts in Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage. It was prohibited by the Howard Government in 2004, and opposed by former Prime Minister Tony Abbot as recently as last year.
Thankfully, the political establishment are beginning to recognise the more tolerant nature of Australian society. And despite religious and conservative objections to the vote, there is enough support in Parliament to honour the wishes of Malcolm Turnbull so that same-sex marriage can be legalised by Christmas.
After the ‘yes’ vote, Australia has mirrored the decision of America and 14 other European nations to provide marriage equality. As such, many have described same-sex marriage as a cultural norm across the western world. After Germany voted in favour of marriage-equality in the summer of this year, it is true to assert that there is increasing conformity in the West surrounding the issue. Cultural transformations have arisen in the face of an increasing level of political youth engagement across Europe alongside the pervasiveness of globalisation.
In modern society it is now mostly in deeply religious countries where marriage equality is enduring sustained opposition, such as Northern Ireland and Italy where the latter only offers civil unions. Despite this, Australia has adopted the attitudes of other Western nations summarised by Bill Shorten who stated ‘LGBTQI Australians are 100% loved and valued’.