Australia: Same-sex marriage legalised in Australia as Parliament passes historic law

Australia has officially become the 26th country to legalise same-sex marriage after the law was passed on Thursday with the overwhelming backing of the Federal Parliament. Thirteen years after changing the Marriage Act to explicitly forbid same-sex unions, federal politicians voted to undo the last major piece of discrimination against gay and lesbian Australians.

It followed last month's emphatic resolution of the Australian public in the postal survey to join the rest of the English-speaking world by embracing marriage equality.

The vote in the House of Representatives, minutes before 6pm on Thursday, came after last week's vote in the Senate, meaning the law has now passed both houses of Parliament. 

"Australia has done it. What a day for love, for equality, for respect," declared a jubilant Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who punched the air as he called it a historic day for the nation.

 "This belongs to us all. This is Australia – fair , diverse, loving and filled with respect for every one of us. This has been a great, unifying day in our history." 

Attorney-General George Brandis advised the law would formally change on Saturday, allowing same-sex couples to lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage from this weekend. The minimum notice period is one month, meaning the first legally recognised same-sex wedding could take place on January 9.

When the vote was declared on the floor of the House, the packed public gallery exploded into cheers and applause, while MPs crossed the chamber to embrace each other, waive rainbow flags and in some cases cry. The public galleries sustained rapturous applause for several minutes and eventually burst into a rendition of I Am, You Are, We Are Australian. Read more via Sydney Morning Herald