'Australians have voted Yes for love,' PM declares

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 07:53:33 AM. The final count was 7.8 million responses in support of same-sex marriage, and 4.9 million against.

Malcolm Turnbull says same-sex marriage result is 'unequivocal and overwhelming' Video: Malcolm Turnbull says same-sex marriage result is 'unequivocal and overwhelming' (ABC News)

Australians have had their say, with 61.6 per cent of the nation voting Yes to legalising same-sex marriage.

The final count was 7.8 million responses in support of same-sex marriage, and 4.9 million against.

Australian statistician David Kalisch said the final number of responses was 12,727,920 people, representing 79 per cent of eligible Australians.

"This is outstanding for a voluntary survey and well above other voluntary surveys conducted around the world," he said.

"It shows how important this issue is to many Australians."

Mr Kalisch noted participation was strong across every state and territory except in the Northern Territory, where only 58.4 per cent of eligible people responded.

Australia says yes to same-sex marriage, ABS chief statistician confirms Video: Australia says yes to same-sex marriage, ABS chief statistician confirms (ABC News)

Participation in the survey was over 70 per cent in 146 of the 150 electorates.

"The participation in the survey [was] slightly higher in older ages and slightly lower in younger age groups but not markedly so," Mr Kalisch said.

"It is worth noting our youngest on the electoral roll, the 18- and 19-year-olds, responded strongly, with around 78 per cent participation."

'Australians have voted Yes for love'

There were scenes of jubilation at Yes campaign parties across the country, including inside Parliament House.

Labor's leader in the Senate Penny Wong was moved to tears.

Penny Wong holds her face in her hands as the Yes result is announced. Photo: Labor's Penny Wong was moved to tears when the result was announced. (ABC News: Jed Cooper)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressed the nation minutes after the result was announced, promising to bring the same-sex marriage bill to a vote in Parliament before Christmas.

"They have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly Yes for marriage equality," he said.

"They voted Yes for fairness, Yes for commitment, Yes for love.

"And 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 tasked us to do and get this done. This year, before Christmas — that must be our commitment."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told a raucous crowd at a Yes party in Melbourne today was a, "fabulous day to be an Australian".

"I say to all LGBTQI Australians, you are 100 per cent loved, 100 per cent valued and after the next two weeks of Parliament 100 per cent able to marry the person you love," he said.

"Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate!"

Greens leader Richard di Natale was at a gathering of Yes supporters in Parliament House, and thanked the Yes campaign for "hard work, campaigning, support and your Yes votes".

Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale holds his arms in the air at a 'Yes' rally. Photo: Greens leader Richard Di Natale was overjoyed at the same-sex marriage result. (ABC News: Jed Cooper)

Conservative senator Eric Abetz congratulated the Yes campaign, saying he regretted the outcome but would respect the result of the survey.

"The decision by the Australian people reflected in the postal survey is a decision that I regret but respect," he said.

"Changing a fundamental societal institution that pre-existed the nation-state is something which should rightly be decided by the people as a whole and it has been with a very strong turnout despite claims from many quarters that this process would fail."

Coalition now looks to debate same-sex marriage bill

The Coalition will now need to decide on the bill that is brought forward to the Parliament.

Mr Turnbull has already nominated a bill drafted by openly gay Liberal senator Dean Smith as a good starting point, but conservatives in the party have locked in behind an alternative suggested by James Paterson, arguing it contains much stronger religious protections.

"Whatever the result today, it is not going to be a rejection or vindication one way or another of the Dean Smith bill. It was not put forward to the Australian people as the option," Cabinet minister Matt Canavan said ahead of the result.

The Prime Minister has said Senator Paterson's bill would discriminate against gay couples and would not have a chance of passing Parliament.

Mathias Cormann, who is aligned with the right of the party, has indicated he would push for more religious protections than are allowed for in Senator Smith's bill.

"The Parliament over the next few weeks will need to determine the right balance in terms of the appropriate religious protections," he said.

"We are very confident that that debate will be able to take place constructively through the Senate and through the House of Representatives and for this to be resolved by the end of the year."

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