Australian Parliament Legalizes Marriage Equality

The Australian House of Representatives’ has voted overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality legislation. The measure passed with only four votes against it. The Australian Senate previously passed the measure by a vote of 43 to 12.

After the Governor-General gives the legislation official approval in a formality known as “Royal Assent,” marriage equality will become the law of the land. Australia will become the 25th country to recognize same-sex couples’ right to marry.

The legislation followed a voluntary postal survey that showed a clear majority of Australian voters endorse equality. The postal survey came after years of stalled efforts to bring marriage equality to Australia. After the country’s governing party refused to allow a conscience vote on the issue in parliament, it undertook the controversial and expensive survey in an attempt to settle the issue. The survey was widely criticized for delaying the arrival of marriage equality.

“Australia has done it. What a day for love, for equality, for respect,” declared a jubilant Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who punched the air as he called it a historic day for the nation.

“This belongs to us all. This is Australia – fair , diverse, loving and filled with respect for every one of us. This has been a great, unifying day in our history.”

“We welcome Australia into the growing family of freedom loving nations that ensure marriage equality for all couples,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. “The overwhelming support for marriage equality Down Under is a testament to the hard work of Australia’s LGBTQ advocates and allies who fought tirelessly to make today a reality. We congratulate them on this incredibly important victory.”

ILGA Oceania – the regional chapter of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association – acknowledged the hard work that LGBTIQ and human rights activists in Australia and around the world have done during this long and protracted fight.

“First of all, thank God for what was achieved today in Australia,” commented Tuisina Ymania Brown, ILGA Oceania co-Convenor. “As a trans woman of color and faith, I believe that love will always prevail. Today, love won. Human rights won. Marriage equality won. Humanity won. Why? Because for the first time in this country, we are equal in terms of who we love. Australians have spoken, and their representatives have done it. Bravo and Brava to all the human rights activists, the Australians that voted, the MPs and senators that worked with our activists to define and refine the legislation. Thank you. And for all those that have shed blood, for those we have lost because of bigotry and discrimination and the hate crimes against LGBTIQ people, this one is for your sacrifice. ILGA Oceania is proud to have supported this campaign.”

“As the former campaign manager for marriage equality in New Zealand, it’s great to finally say: it’s about time, Australia,” commented Rawa Karetai, ILGA Oceania co-Convenor based in New Zealand. “It’s a great day to celebrate the campaign win in Australia. To our LGBTIQ friends in Australia, party in the streets and show that this is a significant win for our community.  Marriage equality is finally here and it’s awesome to know that our LGBTIQ community is allowed to get married.”

“Love prevails once again as loving LGBTQ couples in Australia obtain the hard-fought right to marry and move past the emotional toll of their relationships and families being open to debate,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “Marriage equality is a historic benchmark, worthy of celebration, as advocates continue the push for full LGBTQ acceptance.”

Earlier this year, GLAAD teamed up with Australian celebrities including Yvone Strahovski, Luke Hemsworth, Hugh Sheridan, Dan Macpherson, and Courtney Act to encourage voters to exercise their civic duty and cast their ballots in support of advancing LGBTQ equality during the postal survey and called on Australian lawmakers to pass a clean marriage equality bill without religious exemptions.