Australia just officially legalized same-sex marriage, and this is huge

Anna Sheffer
Australia just officially legalized same-sex marriage, and this is huge

Love has won in Australia. Australians celebrated today, December 7th after Australian Parliament approved same-sex marriage.

Nearly one week after the Australian Senate passed a bill legalizing marriage equality on November 29th, the country’s House of Representatives voted to do the same, meaning marriage equality will become law. The bill passed with only four votes against it.

The country’s new law redefines marriage as “a union between two people,” and it also recognizes same-sex marriages from other countries.

“This belongs to us all,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. “This is Australia: fair, diverse, loving, and filled with respect. For every one of us this is a great day.”

Conservatives attempted to introduce amendments to the bill to protect religious freedom for those opposed to marriage equality. But the amendments failed after Turnbull pointed out that the bill does not interfere with ministers’ decisions to preside over gay weddings.

Same-sex couples will have to wait until January to get married, though, due to a national requirement that all couples notify the government of their wedding plans one month in advance.

A non-binding postal survey in November showed that Australians were largely in favor of same-sex marriage, with about 61 percent of the poll’s 12 million respondents saying they supported it.

Following the survey, Turnbull introduced a bill proposing the legalization of same-sex marriage into Parliament. The prime minister also promised that the government would work to pass the bill before Parliament recessed for the holidays.

People all around Australia celebrated the news.

Australian lawmakers defined marriage as between a man and a woman in 2004. And while polls as early as 2007 showed citizens supported marriage equality, the government made little effort to legalize it. So after all this opposition, today’s decision comes as a hard-fought victory.

We are thrilled that all Australians can finally marry the people they love. This is huge step in the right direction, but the fight for equality around the world is far from over. We hope that people around the world will continue the fight for LGBTQ rights. In the meantime, congratulations, Australia!