Australians say 'I do' to gay marriage

Australians voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry, official results showed on Wednesday, sending the task of legalising marriage equality to a deeply divided parliament.

Almost 62 percent of the 12.7 million people who participated in the two-month postal survey voted in favour of allowing gay marriage, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced at a press conference in Canberra. The « no » vote garnered 38.4 percent.

Nearly 80 percent of eligible voters took part in the poll, said the chief of the statistics bureau Davis Kalisch, adding: « Australians can have confidence these statistics reflect the view of the eligible population. »

Same-sex couples could be able to marry by Christmas, but first parliament must adopt legislation giving the non-binding vote result the force of law.

Thousands of marriage equality supporters erupted into celebrations at rallies in major cities across Australia when the result was announced.

« This means everything, this means everything, » repeated Chris, fighting back tears and hugging his partner Victor at a huge rally in Sydney.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a moderate conservative who supported legalisation, called the « yes » vote an « overwhelming » endorsement of marriage equality.

« They (Australians) have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality, » Turnbull told reporters in Canberra. « They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. »

He reaffirmed that his government would now push ahead with passing legislation to change the marriage laws by Christmas. (AFP)

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