@VarunMalhotra, Special Correspondent
Australia: There were loud cheers, hugs and sustained clapping in the 150-seat lower House of Representatives when all but four MPs voted in support of marriage equality, after the upper house Senate passed the bill 43-12 last week.
“What a day for love, for equality, for respect! Australia has done it”, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the House.
“Every Australian had their say and they said it is fair, get on with it!”
The historic reforms will commence on Saturday, when same-sex couples can a lodge a notice to marry. They will then have to wait a month before tying the knot.
Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten hailed the passing of the bill as a uniting moment for Australia, adding: “Now is the time for healing”.
“A time to build, a time to love, and is now at last a time for marriage equality”, he said.
Thursday’s vote comes three weeks after Australia voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriage as part of a national postal survey lasting two months.
Under political pressure to find a solution, the ruling Liberal National Coalition government announced the non-compulsory survey in August, saying if the result was “yes” they would allow a free vote in Parliament.
In the end, 61.6% of Australia voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriage, with 38.4% saying “no.”
About 12.7 million people participated in the survey, which had a response rate of nearly 80% — which is considered very high.