Australians decisively support same-sex marriage

The Senate could begin debating changes to the Marriage Act as early as this week if the'Yes vote comes out on top

Australian statistician David Kalisch announced the results in the country's capital Canberra, with 7,817,247 of the ballots cast saying yes, compared to 4,873,987 opposed to the idea.

Australia has said "yes" to legalizing same-sex marriage after a controversial two-month national postal survey.

Australia has become increasingly isolated among Western nations on same-sex marriage, with Germany, the US and Ireland recently joining countries including the United Kingdom and New Zealand in legalizing unions. He is now expected to press parliament to enact a law allowing same-sex marriage. Across the voting period, there were reports of homophobic violence and widespread concerns about the integrity of the process run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an agency not normally in charge of running a vote of this size.

Advocates of same-sex unions criticized parliament for holding the postal vote - saying the nearly two-month campaign saw a surge in calls to mental-health helplines as opponents warned that changing the law could harm children and lead to radical sex education in schools.

In remarks praised by his moderate Liberal allies as "strong", Mr Turnbull argued Australians would not support such moves - and neither would the Parliament. The "yes" result of the $122 million survey now empowers Turnbull to push a marriage-equality law through parliament, perhaps by year's end.

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But, several politicians have previously said they would vote against a change in the law regardless of public opinion.

Senator Paterson said he was a supporter of same sex marriage but also believed there was a need for religious freedoms to be protected.

"I hope Malcolm Turnbull shows some spine on this, I really do", she said.

Alex Greenwich, from the Equality Campaign who backed a Yes vote, said: "Our campaign has worked hard to bring Australians together and achieving marriage equality will be a unifying moment for our nation as we include everyone in our marriage laws".

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