The bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia has just passed the House of Representatives, with marriage equality set to be brought into law in next month. Subsequently, today marks a historic event in Australian history, a country that has notoriously been slow in making changes to the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry, in spite of being a supposedly progressive state. Notably, only four members of the Lower House voted against the passing of the bill.
Last week saw the initial vote by the Australian Senate in which the bill was passed without any amendments being made, a feat repeated with today’s vote. Although several opponents pushed for changes to be made to the bill, changes that would also likely result in further delays of it being legalised, the legislation passed through without revision.
There was little doubt that the bill would be passed through the Lower House and once the final vote ended in favour of the bill, the chamber reportedly exploded into celebration as both senators and supporters in the viewing gallery alike began cheering, crying, and even singing.
All the bill now requires is the formality of approval from the Governor General, which is predicted to happen on Friday. As many same-sex couples have already been legally married overseas, their marriages are to be automatically recognised by Australian law. However, as a Notice of Intended Marriage is legally required a month prior to a ceremony in Australia, same-sex weddings are not expected to actually occur until the beginning of 2018.
Although it has been a long and arduous process for Australia, this legislation is a symbol of the progress that has been made in dismantling the ingrained ignorance and intolerance in its culture. Hopefully, with time, this will lead to a more widespread acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community and allow its members to feel more comfortable and at peace with themselves in their own country.
Image Source: By Tony Webster (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons