Australians have come out in favour of same-sex marriages in a historic national poll.
The survey, while non-binding, is a significant step towards achieving marriage equality and paves the way for same-sex unions across the country.
Some 61.6 per cent of the electorate backed gay marriage, against 38.4 per cent who opposed the move, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.A change in the law would make Australia the 26th nation to legalise same-sex marriage.
Responding, Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said the result was “overwhelming” and “unequivocal” and added that he hoped to legalise same-sex unions before the end of the year.
“Now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian people have asked us to do and get this done,” he said. “This year, before Christmas – that must be our commitment.
“It is our job now to get on with it, get on with it and get this done. It is fair. The people have voted yes for marriage equality. Now it is our job to deliver it.
“They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love.”
Australian statistician David Kalisch announced the results in the capital Canberra, with 7,817,247 of the ballots cast saying yes, compared to 4,873,987 opposed to the idea, on a turnout of 79.5 per cent.
Across all six states in Australia, the yes vote won – ranging from 57.8 per cent in New South Wales to 74 per cent support in the Australian Capital Territory.
Tiernan Brady, director of Australians for Equality, said: “If this were a general election it would be the biggest landslide in Australian history.”
The result marks a watershed moment for gay rights in Australia, where it was illegal in some states to engage in homosexual activity until 1997.
Thousands of supporters who had gathered in a park in central Sydney broke into a loud cheer, hugged each other and cried as the result was delivered live over a big screen.