The rainbow flag flies from Australia House in London this week in reflection of Australia’s vote to legalise same sex marriage. The results were 61.6% to the ‘Yes’ vote, and 38.4% to the ‘No’ vote.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), who conducted the vote, reported that a staggering 78.9% of eligible Australians voted. The results were celebrated around the country at ‘Yes’ parties, with many proposals occurring at the announcement of the results.
Only 17 of 150 federal electorates returned a ‘No’ majority, according to ABS survey data. Many celebrated the fact that the electorate of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is a staunch and controversial ‘No’ campaigner, returned a 75% ‘Yes’ vote.
Mr. Abbott has confirmed that he will abstain from the vote in parliament saying in an interview with local radio that he “will not frustrate the will of the public”.
The postal-vote was non-binding and now requires the parliament to legislate on it.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, speaking at a press conference following the announcement of the results, has pledged that the parliament will do so “this year, before Christmas”. He also stated that now the Australian public had given its view, it was the role of parliament “to get on with it and get this done”.
Some controversy remains about the contents of the bill, as religious groups campaign for protections for religious freedoms. However, many have criticised these for equating to the right to discriminate.
Prime Minister Turnbull has reassured the public that he “would not countenance” discrimination to be legalised through this bill. The current proposal will only allow for registered religious celebrants to refuse to conduct or serve same sex marriages. Prime Minister Turnbull has appealed to those who voted ‘No’ saying that the nation must “must respect the voice of the people. We asked them for their opinion and they have given it to us”.