Australia Celebrates ‘Day for Love’ as It Allows Same-Sex Marriage
Australia became the 26th nation to legalise same-sex marriage on Thursday, 7 December, prompting cheers and singing from a packed parliament public gallery in a country where some states ruled homosexual acts to be illegal until just 20 years ago.
Lawmakers, who had cast aside a conservative push to allow religious objectors to refuse service to same-sex couples, waved rainbow flags and embraced on the floor of the chamber, after the overwhelming vote in favour of the bill.
Fewer than five of 150 MPs voted against it.
The law, which will also recognise same-sex marriages solemnised in foreign countries, takes effect from Saturday, 9 December. Because a month’s notice is required for the state to recognise a marriage, the first legal same-sex unions will be in January.
Five-time Olympic gold-medal winner, the swimmer Ian Thorpe, who came out in 2014, said the law reflected contemporary Australia and would support people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual queer or intersex (LGBTQI).
Australians had overwhelmingly endorsed legalising same-sex marriage in a postal survey.
The bill cleared the upper house last month.
But despite the support of the main parties, religious organisations and conservative lawmakers had voiced strong opposition and proposed dozens of amendments.
During the debate, they pressed for broad protections for religious objectors, among them florists and bankers, to refuse service to same-sex couples.
But their efforts were rejected.
“These amendments, rather, are a shield for people and organisations that hold to a traditional view of marriage. They are not a sword to be wielded in the service of bigotry,” government MP Andrew Hastie said in parliament.
(The article has been edited for length.)
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