SYDNEY – Australia has legalized same-sex marriage after parliament passed a historic law on Thursday.
The lower house approved the bill following a resounding victory in a non-binding postal survey, which showed the overwhelming support the initiative enjoyed in the country.
The Senate had passed the bill last week, with parliament’s approval on Thursday the final hurdle the bill had to face before it is signed by the Governor-General to become law.
“What a day! What a day for love, for equality, for respect,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said before the vote in the parliament.
The law was supported by an overwhelming majority in the house – with only four MPs voting against the law – and loud applause broke out as it was approved, with people in the public gallery singing the popular song “We are Australian.”
Many MPs carried rainbow scarves and flags supporting the LGBTQ community, and a crowd of supporters gathered outside the parliament to celebrate the expected approval of the law.
The attorney-general of Australia, George Brandis, issued a statement after the vote saying the reform would come into effect on Dec. 9, the broadcaster ABC reported.
The reform modifies the Marriage Act 1961, which had been amended in 2004 to specify that marriage was exclusively between a man and a woman.
In December 2013, the High Court had overturned a law allowing same-sex weddings in the Australian Capital Territory on the grounds that it was in breach of the 1961 Federal Marriage Act.
Similar legislative proposals had also failed in the states of Tasmania and New South Wales.