Turnbull promises legislation on same-sex marriage before year-end

RSTV Bureau

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that his government will seek to pass a legislation to legalise same-sex marriage by the end of the year. Turnbull’s statement came after majority of voters supported the move in a voluntary national survey.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said that 61.6 percent of voters cast their ballots in support of same-sex marriage. Only a total of 38.4 percent were opposed. Reports say that almost 80 per cent of the country’s eligible voters took part in the survey – a higher voter turnout than Britain’s Brexit vote and Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum.

“The Australian people have tasked us to get this done. This year, before Christmas – that must be our commitment,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

The survey result marked a watershed moment for gay rights in Australia, where it was illegal in some states to engage in homosexual activity until 1997.

Gay rights supporters celebrated across the nation. Thousands of people in a central Sydney park broke into loud cheer, hugged and cried as Australia’s chief statistician announced the results of the survey live on a big screen.

Prime Minister Turnbull, who is under pressure amid a citizenship crisis that has cost him his deputy and the government’s majority in parliament, will find his leadership being tested again when the marriage equality bill will enter parliament.

The conservatives’ planned amendments to the bill would allow private businesses to refuse services like wedding cakes for same-sex weddings by objecting on religious grounds.

Australia will become the 26th nation to formalise the unions if the legislation is passed by parliament, which is expected despite some vocal opposition within the government’s conservative right wing.

(With inputs from agencies)