A week after historic elections across the United States, Australia has jumped into the spotlight after 61.6 percent of 12.7 million people voted yes to marriage equality. Though the results are non-binding, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull now has the fuel to pass legislation in Parliament.
“[Australians] have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ for marriage equality,” Turnbull said after the result was announced. “They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, ‘yes’ for commitment, ‘yes’ for love.”
For supporters of marriage equality, this vote and the change of attitudes has been a long time coming. “Homosexual sex” was illegal in parts of the country until 1997, according to CNN, and during the voting period, Qantas Airlines’ Chief Executive Alan Joyce was assaulted during a business breakfast with a lemon meringue pie in May. Joyce is gay and the airline is one of 1,300 businesses who support marriage equality.
Now that the results are in, marriage equality opponents aim to protect themselves from perceived danger. “We will now do what we can to guard against restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to defend parents’ rights, and to protect Australian kids from being exposed to radical LGBTIQ sex and gender education in the classrooms,” said “no” campaigner Lyle Shelton to the BBC.
Happy supporters have been dancing and celebrating the results, but now the fight is in the government’s hands. Turnbull aims to have legislation written and passed before Christmas and if he succeeds, marriage equality proponents and Australia’s LGBTQ community can toast to an extra special present this year.