Emotional celebrations erupted across Australia Wednesday as voters emphatically endorsed same-sex marriage after more than a decade of divisive debate, and political leaders immediately took the first steps to enshrine the historic shift in law.
Thousands of marriage equality supporters took to parks and squares across the vast continent, hugging, dancing and singing under clouds of glitter when the results of the two-month-long postal survey were announced.
“This means everything, this means everything,” shouted Chris at a huge rally in Sydney, fighting back tears and hugging his partner Victor.
“It has been fantastic. I have been with my partner for 35 years and he was so joyed up that he burst into tears,” added another reveller, Gerry Boller.
Almost 62 percent of the 12.7 million people who participated voted “yes” to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
Just 38.4 percent voted “no”, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which carried out the poll.
Irish-born Qantas Airlines chief Alan Joyce, who is openly gay and campaigned strongly for the “yes” campaign, also fought back tears as he spoke of his delight.
“I was so proud of Ireland in May 2015 when they became the first nation in the world to vote for marriage equality… But today I am even more proud of Australia, the country of my selection,” he said in Sydney.
Nearly 80 percent of eligible voters took part in the poll, with the “yes” vote winning a majority in all of Australia’s states and territories.