Same-Sex Marriage: Australia

Kristi Intorre, ’18

On Tuesday, November 14, 2017 the Australian public completed a national survey to determine the country’s current stance on legalizing same-sex marriage. Of the 12.7 million voters, accounting for 79.5% of voting-age Australians, an overwhelming 61.6% of people voted yes, and 38.4% voted against the legalization. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called for the survey, urged Australians to vote yes that day “because it’s fair.” The poll, officially named the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, took place of over the course of eight weeks and asked one question, “Should the marriage law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

Although the supportive Prime Minister introduced the survey, it received criticism from same-sex marriage supporters, as it was perceived as governmental tactic to delay the issue from reaching debate in Parliament. The survey was also critiqued for its cost and lengthy process. It seems, however, that the “No campaign” insisted that the “Yes campaign” needed to test the issue with the public by national vote in order to win Parliament. The survey is a novel tool used by the Australian government, as Parliament would normally legislate matters within its power without directly consulting the people.

While the survey is not binding, and therefore does not immediately change the marriage law, the majority of the country celebrates as it provides the Australian Government with grounds to legalize same-sex marriage.

Mr. Turnbull called on the Australian Parliament “to get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do” and to legalize same-sex marriage before Christmas of this year. A bill to change the marriage law was introduced to the Australian Senate late on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, and will be debated in Parliament next.

Australia’s vote comes after Malta and Germany’s legalization of same-sex marriage on September 1, 2017 and October 1, 2017, respectively.

Attached is a link to live coverage of a crowd celebrating in Sydney, Australia as the poll results came in:

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