It’s been a tumultuous few months in Australia, as the nation chose sides over the same-sex marriage debate. Now, the results from the postal vote are in, and the majority of the respondents have voted to legalise it.
David Kalisch, the chief statistician from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, announced the final tally at 10am AEDT, revealing that 61.6 per cent of the 12.7 million Australians who voted were in favour of legalising same-sex marriage. The return rate for the votes was near 80 per cent—a figure that far exceeded expectations when the voluntary vote was first announced. The postal vote cost $132 million to distribute.
It’s important to remember though, that the survey result isn’t binding, which means politicians can still vote against the result.
West Australian Liberal Senator Dean Smith has already put forward a bill legalising same-sex marriage, but conservative Liberals are threatening to introduce a rival bill that would offer more religious protections for people who wish to refuse services to same-sex couples.
AAP reported that debate on the Smith bill could start as early as Thursday.
Love it or hate it, people all around the country were preparing themselves for a result in favour of same-sex marriage this morning, with campaigners from the Yes campaign setting up stages and getting ready to party.
Olympian Ian Thorpe, a strong advocate for same-sex marriage, said on Sunrise that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome due to the reports leading up to the reveal, and that he was “not prepared for a ‘no'”.
The Labor party was already making promises to hedge their bets should a No result be returned.
“It would be emotionally difficult for a lot of people,” Labor senator Penny Wong said on ABC radio this morning. “Even if there’s a No vote, if we want the next election we will legislate . We would have to pick ourselves up.”
Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who returned to Australia last night, is scheduled to hold a press conference this morning to address the results of the same-sex marriage vote.