Same-sex marriage is legalised in Australia following successful referendum

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Proud symbol: the roof of Sydney Opera House is lit in rainbow colours to celebrate the passing of the same-sex marriage legislation, on Saturday

Proud symbol: the roof of Sydney Opera House is lit in rainbow colours to celebrate the passing of the same-sex marriage legislation, on Saturday

SAME-SEX marriage is now lawful in Australia, after the Australian government passed the legislation overwhelmingly on its final day of sitting for 2017. Amid enthusiastic applause from members of the public in the packed public galleries, parliamentarians who have worked hard for the legislation over more than a decade congratulated each other as the Bill passed.

Given the requirement of a calendar month’s notice for a marriage to take place, the first same-sex weddings can be celebrated from 9 January. The legislation means that the marriages of couples married overseas have now been recognised in this country.

During the lengthy parliamentary debate, opponents of same-sex marriage moved a range of amendments concerning religious freedom and personal conscience. The legislation as presented to Parliament protects the right of ministers of religion to refuse to marry same-sex couples. All the amendments were lost.

The parliamentary decision follows the result of the voluntary postal survey of all electors, in which same-sex marriage was supported by 61.6 per cent of voters (News, 8 December).

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