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Australia Votes Overwhelmingly Yes for Same Sex Marriage

15 November 2017 at 10:32 am
Luke Michael
Australians have voted overwhelmingly in favour of same sex marriage with the yes vote winning more than 60 per cent of votes.

Luke Michael | 15 November 2017 at 10:32 am


Australia Votes Overwhelmingly Yes for Same Sex Marriage
15 November 2017 at 10:32 am

Australians have voted overwhelmingly in favour of same sex marriage with the yes vote winning more than 60 per cent of votes.

ABS chief statistician David Kalisch revealed the postal vote result on Wednesday morning and said nationally “yes” responses were 7,817,024 representing 61.6 per cent of clear responses.

“Millions of Australians reported and responded to this voluntary survey. The final number was 12,727,920 people achieving a response of 79.5 per cent ,” he said.

“This is outstanding for a voluntary survey and well above other voluntary surveys conducted around the world. It shows how important this issue is for the many Australians. Participation was strong across all ages. We had over 70 per cent participation.

“The participation in the survey was slightly higher in older ages and slightly lower in younger age groups but not markedly so. It is worth noting our youngest on the electoral roll, the 18 and 19 -year-olds, responded strongly with around 78 per cent participation.

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

Kalisch said “no” responses reached 4,873,987 representing 38.4 per cent of clear responses.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agreed the yes vote was “overwhelming”.

“Australians have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality,” Turnbull 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.

“We asked the Australian people for their view. This was an unprecedented exercise in democracy. A voluntary postal survey in which 80 per cent participated and over 61 per cent, 61.6 per cent, have said yes.

“That is an overwhelming participation rate and an overwhelming yes vote.”

Responding to the ‘no’ vote Turnbull said: “Now, I know that many people, a minority, obviously, voted no. But we are a fair nation. There is nothing more Australian than a fair go, than equality and mutual respect. And everyone has had their say. That’s what we pledged at the last election.”

The leaders of the ‘No’ campaign, the Coalition for Marriage, have said they accept and respect the decision, but vowed to continue fighting for freedom of speech and parents’ rights.

“While we are naturally disappointed in today’s result, we accept and respect the decision of the Australian people,” Coalition for Marriage spokesman, Lyle Shelton said.

“We will now do what we can to guard against restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to defend parents’ rights, and to protect Australian kids from being exposed to radical LGBTIQ sex and gender education in the classrooms.

“In their push for same-sex marriage, the ‘yes’ campaign assured Australians that a change in the law would have no consequences for them; it is now time for them to make good on that promise and ensure that proper protections for parental rights, freedom of speech and belief are in place.

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) has expressed its happiness at the result, and called on the Australian government to quickly legislate for same-sex marriage while retaining the necessary human rights protections.

“ACOSS is very pleased that marriage equality has been recognised by the Australian people as a right following the release of the postal survey results today,” the organisation said.

“ACOSS applauds all those across Australian society who campaigned tirelessly for this outcome, and all of those Australian people who voted yes to finally removing discriminatory barriers to marriage.

“ACOSS calls on the Parliament to accept this resounding vote of yes and to ensure the passage of legislation is expedited and that it retains the necessary human rights protections all Australian people currently enjoy.”

Professor Patrick McGorry, who is the executive director of Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, told Pro Bono News that this result showed Australia was maturing as a country.

“It’s a very historic decision. It was overwhelmingly positive with over 60 per cent support and hardly any electorates voting no,” McGorry said.

“It shows how the country is maturing and becoming more inclusive and progressive – catching up with all the other English speaking countries that did this some time ago.”

McGorry said the survey campaign had adversely affected the mental health of young LGBTI Australians, but that this result would prevent about 3,000 youth suicide attempts a year.

“I think what it will do, in a very fundamental way, is make them feel very much a part of the Australian community. It sends a very powerful message and should improve their mental health,” he said.

“In more measurable ways, what we’ve seen in other jurisdictions which have brought in marriage equality such as the US, is that there has been a substantial decrease in suicide attempts [for] LGBTI young people.

“We’ve calculated that we can expect roughly 3,000 less suicide attempts over the next 12 months once marriage equality is brought in.”

He thanked the coalition of mental health groups, which includes Orygen, for working together to address the mental health concerns of young people during the campaign.    

“It’s incredibly good that all the mental health groups nationally, like Headspace, ReachOut, the Brain and Mind Centre and Black Dog, have actually combined to support the ‘yes’ case and the mental health of young people throughout the campaign,” he said.

“That’s a very important stepping stone to providing much more serious attention to the mental health of young Australians.”

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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