The Financial Express

Australia parliament passes same-sex marriage bill

Published: December 07, 2017 14:06:02 | Updated: December 08, 2017 15:35:37

Photo: The Guardian Photo: The Guardian

Same-sex marriage has been made legal in Australia after politicians voted in a landslide today to pass the historic bill.

It comes after Australians overwhelmingly voted Yes to the change in a postal survey last month, effectively bringing an end to a decade long debate.

The bill passed just before 6pm today after MPs voted to knock back a series of last-minute changes to the legislation.

MPs and members of the public began to spontaneously sing the national anthem after the vote.

There were tears and hugs on the floor of parliament.

Cheers and shouts erupted from the public gallery – which was packed with hundreds of people – as the result of the final vote was announced.

It passed with 154 votes in favour and four votes against it.

Those who opposed the vote were Bob Katter (QLD Independent), Keith Pitt (QLD Lib), David Littleproud (QLD Nats) and Russell Broadbent (VIC Lib).

Gay icons Magda Szubanski amd Ian Thorpe were in the House of Representatives to watch the historic moment, along with Labor frontbencher Penny Wong, Liberal senator Dean Smith, who drafted the bill, and Tony Abbott’s sister Christine Forster and her partner Virginia.

Today was the final test for same-sex marriage after the bill passed the senate almost entirely unchanged from the original draft last week.

It came after almost 29 hours of debate in the House of Representatives and 118 speeches.

Earlier, same-sex marriage opponent Kevin Andrews was slammed on social media for his final speech on same sex marriage just moments before the final vote.

“If the negative consequences that many people have warned about … come to pass, I hope that those who have asserted boldly and blandly here that there are no such negative consequences have the grace and humility to accept that they are wrong,” Mr Andrews said.

His comments come after Bob Katter sparked controversy as he took to the floor of Parliament to argue for amendments to the marriage equality bill to protect religious freedoms.

He said the debate “makes no difference as far as I can see to anything”.

“L-G-B-Ts, whatever the hell it is … I have no idea what it is … you’ll probably change it,” Mr Katter said.

“I refuse to use the word g-a-y.”

He also expressed confusion on why same-sex couples want to use the word ‘marriage’.

He accused the LGBTI community of stealing the word “gay” before reading out the alternative definition of the word: ‘Beautiful, light, happy and ethereal”.

Mr Katter’s comments come as gay marriage looks set to pass the Parliament later today after MPs knocked back a series of last-minute changes to the historic bill.

MPs voted down a series of amendments on the same-sex marriage bill this morning but were unable to conclude debate before the beginning of Question Time at 2pm AEDT.

Another amendment on legal protections for charities was voted down at about 3.30pm.

It’s expected a final vote could be held before 6pm.

Malcolm Turnbull refused to cancel Question Time today to continue the debate on the remaining amendments.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten had made the request but Mr Turnbull refused, saying both the Government and Opposition were accountable during the session.

But he did agree to end Question Time at 3pm, cutting the session short by about 15 minutes.

Parliament has just a few scheduled hours of sitting time left to finish the debate and pass the legislation before it goes into overtime.

Hours have been extended to deal with other government business that must be concluded before parliament can wrap up for the year tonight.

Same-sex marriage campaigners Magda Szubanski and Tony Abbott’s sister Christine Forster have attended Parliament to watch the historic debate from the public gallery.

Changes proposed by Tony Abbott, the Greens and a number of conservatives have already been voted down.

Earlier, Mr Abbott criticised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten for failing to support stronger religious protections in the same-sex marriage bill as debate was underway.

The former prime minister told Parliament that the House had a “problem” because it was debating a bill that did not have the protections “promised” by them.

“A promise was made by the leaders of this parliament and the promise has not adequately been delivered upon and that is why this parliament is now being called upon to deal with this on the run as it were, because the promises that were made from the top were not adequately delivered upon,” Mr Abbott told the House.

He also criticised the “supine respect” the House is giving the Senate, asking: “What would Paul Keating think?”.

“I have never heard before members of this House showing such supine respect to another place,” he said.

“Why is it that simply because something has been passed in the Senate, these are tablets of stone handed down from the mountain top beyond any question or consideration or delay by this House?”

Mr Abbott’s comments come after his last-ditch attempt to change legislation that will allow same-sex couples to marry failed, in a move that could see the historic bill pass today, reports The Telegraph.

The former prime minister took to Twitter today to explain his decision not to fight for his amendment this morning.

Mr Abbott had called for the House of Representatives to officially note that “it is vital that individuals and entities are not disadvantaged nor suffer any adverse effects as a result of conscientiously holding a particular view of the nature of marriage.”

It was voted down on voices and he did not call for a division to check the number of MPs who voted for and against the amendment.

“Out of respect for the millions of Australians who take religious freedom seriously I moved my amendment; out of respect for the millions who want the SSM bill swiftly passed I chose not to divide on it,” he wrote on Twitter shortly after the vote.

Earlier, Magda Szubanski and fellow leaders of the Yes campaign gathered on the lawns of Parliament House to urge politicians to pass the bill without delay.

Share if you like