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Australia celebrates 'day for love' as it allows same-sex marriage

Australia celebrates 'day for love' as it allows same-sex marriage
From Reuters - December 7, 2017

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia became the 26th nation to legalise same-sex marriage on Thursday, prompting cheers and singing from a packed parliament public gallery in a country where some states ruled homosexual acts to be illegal until just 20 years ago.

Lawmakers, who had cast aside a conservative push to allow religious objectors to refuse service to same-sex couples, waved rainbow flags and embraced on the floor of the chamber, after the overwhelming vote in favour of the bill.

Fewer than five of 150 MPs voted against it.

What a day. What a day for love, for equality, for respect, said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. It is time for more marriages.

The law, which will also recognise same-sex marriages solemnised in foreign countries, takes effect from Saturday. Because a months notice is required for the state to recognise a marriage, the first legal same-sex unions will be in January.

Five-time Olympic gold-medal winner, the swimmer Ian Thorpe, who came out in 2014, said the law reflected contemporary Australia and would support people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual queer or intersex (LGBTQI).

It will give each of us the sense of what modern Australia is, and is, in fact, the way that most of us see this country as being, and will allow LGBTQI people in our nation to know that fairness is one of our values, he told reporters in Canberra.

Australians had overwhelmingly endorsed legalising same-sex marriage in a postal survey.

What a moment for the country, said Christine Forster, a Sydney councillor and the sister of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, standing among throngs of rainbow-clad campaigners for a Yes vote, outside parliament with her female partner.

She said she planned to go to her brothers house to celebrate.

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