Australian Parliament Passes Marriage Equality Bill

Australia's parliament has passed the bill making it the 25th country to recognise same-sex marriage

Two women in wedding dresses kiss with marriage equality posters in background

On Thursday morning, Australian parliament held the vote that would legalise the marriage equality bill. The bill passed its third reading with only four members of parliament (3 from Coalition MPs, 1 independent) in opposition.

Photo of australian parliament during the members vote. The majority are sitting on the right side of the screen in favoour of the vote whilst four remain on the opposition bench.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke to the house saying “Every Australian had their say and they said ‘it’s fair, get on with it’.”

The leader of the opposition added, “I say to LGBTQI Australians in particular, you have given us a gift. This parliament when we passed marriage equality law is not a gift from us to LGBTQI Australians, equality is never a gift to be given, equality is an inalienable birthright of every Australian and this equality is long overdue.”

 

Momentous Occasion

This comes after years of political and public debate, notably in 2004 when two women were among a number of couples who brought a legal case to have their marriage recognised in Australia. In response to this, Australia introduced a bill to exclude them.

There has been intense public debate and protests from both sides since and it has been widely known that most Australians have long been in favour of marriage equality. It was finally decided to be put to a postal vote in November which saw 61% vote in favour and 38% against.

 

Graphic showing the results of the postal vote poll held on the 15th of Novemeber. 61.6% voted yes and 38.4% voted no with a 79.5% turnout
Results of Australian marriage equality postal vote held earlier in November

There was a 79.5% turnout which is considered quite high, meaning the cross-party bill could be passed without ammendments by both the Senate and the Houses of Representatives who together make up the Parliament.

After all of the official proceedings had finished, the prime minister stood up and applauded the people in the public gallery, many of which were heavily involved in the marriage equality campaign. In what was the most poignant moment of the morning, the public gallery then broke into song, singing one of Australia’s unofficial anthems “I am, you are we are Australian”.

Tiernan Brady, former Political Director of the Yes Equality Campaign here in Ireland, has led the fight for Marriage Equality in Australia since 2016 as director of the Equality Campaign.

 

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Emotional Week

Emotions have run high this week for LGBT+ Australians with the parliament debating this bill since Monday.

Proceedings kicked off with a marriage proposal by MP Tim Wilson to his long-term partner. It also heard many accounts from MP’s on why this bill matters so much to them.

On Tuesday Andrew Wallace spoke on how his gay daughter helped to change his position on the matter stating: “She said: Dad, in the years to come, my generation will look back and judge your generation about how you deal with the issue of homosexuality in the same way that your generation considered your parents’ generation in the way that they dealt with our Indigenous people,”.

 

Public Response

The announcement this morning has been met with joy with many sharing their sentiments on social media.

Yazzzzz! The Australian public voted Yes, and Senate voted Yes, the House Of Reps voted Yes! It’s a big fat YES for #marriageequality in Australia!! I really had just accepted that my community would always be seen as less than, “not equal”. I didn’t care. We didn’t need the governments validation of our love or identities. We’ve fought and prospered in the face of fear. Thanks to amazing pioneers, from the #78ers to #MarriageEquality  campaigners, today, my country, Australia, has stated that the definition of marriage is a union between two people. It might not seem like much to some, but it has huge symbolism for this little boy from Brisbane and many others around the world ?️‍??????️‍? It’s gonna be one hell of a @sydneymardigras next year!

A post shared by Courtney Act (@courtneyact) on

 

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