Photo from ABC.com
By McKenzi Thi Murphy
It is an amazing time to be a part of the LGBTQ* community down under, as Australians have declared a resounding “yes” to allowing same-sex marriages to take place after a three-month-long survey. With 61.6% of over twelve million voters casting their ballot for yes in the postal survey, many have taken to social media as well as the streets to celebrate this historic moment. Following the postal vote, the Australian Parliament is being now called upon to carry out with the will of the people. This postal vote, while a great victory, is a nonbinding referendum; just a gauging of how Australians felt about the matter. However, all major political party leaders have made a pledge to implement the decision of the vote. Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull has stated that he intends “to make their wish the law of the land by Christmas”.
As of November 15th, a bill has been introduced to the Senate by Dean Smith where the debate on same-sex marriage will begin tomorrow morning. It is expected to continue through to next week where the Australian right wing is amendments that would allow those who object to the notion to be able to refuse service. This, claimed by attorney general George Brandis, would make it clear that any views against same-sex marriage is perfectly legal. Penny Wong, Labor leader in the Senate, has spoken against that amendment, however, saying that “the Australian people voted to lessen discrimination and not to extend it”.
Regarding the vote itself, unsurprisingly, the highest concentrations of “yes” votes were in the urban areas of Sydney, Melbourne and the like. The highest “yes” vote took place in Australian Capital Territory with 74% of people voting in favor. New South Wales came in at just 57.89%, making it the lowest area to vote in favor. Nevertheless, they still maintained a positive majority despite opposition.
While the final vote was in favor of same-sex marriage, many felt the need to boycott the vote entirely, including members of the LGBT community. Some feel that the survey was entirely unnecessary, allowing people who had no business being granted a say in their marriage a voice in the debate. And it seems, that even including those boycotting on principle, the next step to Parliament has already been taken.
Australia is now that much closer to joining the twenty-seven countries where same-sex marriage is legal either nationwide or in select regions.