After a series of fierce debates and a clear divide between those who wanted to vote Yes and those who wanted to vote No, Australia has had its say on whether same-sex marriage should be legal. The voting took place through a plebiscite (a postal vote that isn’t compulsory, unlike other forms of voting in the country), and although there is a degree of uncertainty because parliament still has to vote, the public has ruled that same-sex marriage should be legalized in a stunning victory for equal rights campaigners.
Only 17 out of 150 electorates voted No, and in total 7,817,247 Australians voted Yes, as revealed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The election hasn’t come without frequent controversies, such as former Prime Minister Tony Abbott wrongly arguing that no matter what the voting result, there should be protection for “freedom of religion” in the wake of the Paterson Bill released on Monday, which is one of the reasons casting the vote has taken so long and why there still needs to be a vote amongst politicians.The bill allowed for a wide-range of discrimination against gay couples under the supposed guise of religious beliefs and freedom of faith, although the possibility of it following through has been overturned by current Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. Nevertheless, it is a proud day for those in need of equal rights and fair laws. Having read the result and going on to discuss with the large number of people flocking to give their view on marriage equality, Australian statistician David Kalisch says the turnout was “outstanding for a voluntary survey” and that all age groups had a participation rate of above 70%, and older generations more so.
Floods of support and pride in the people who voted Yes is coming in worldwide and outbreaks of partying happened as soon as the result was released, especially as the No voters didn’t reach their so-called “moral victory target” of 40% of votes if they didn’t win (the Yes voters had a majority of 61.6% of the turnout).
It’s undeniable that today marks the start of and a new chapter in the Australian community banding together against unfairness and intolerant behaviour in a long battle against those opposing LGBTQ+ rights. Today marks a near definite change in the way generations of children are taught to think about gay rights and being LGBTQ+. It shows that there is nothing wrong with being different and that as a country, Australia welcomes diversity in sexuality with a clearly triumphant Yes!