Australia has voted to abandon the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
The result follows a campaign of sustained abuse and threats of violence against ‘no’ voters.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the outcome of the non-binding postal vote and said he intends to make same-sex marriage “the law of the land by Christmas”.
‘Freedom of conscience’
More than 12.7 million people took part in answering the question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
The result saw 61.6 per cent vote in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Leader of the Australian Conservatives, Cory Bernardi, warned: “A great many more Australians have concerns about the consequences for our cherished freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.”
A Bill has now been introduced to the Australian Senate to redefine marriage. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Bill must provide “freedom of conscience for all”.
Lyle Shelton, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), has called on traditional marriage supporters to “speak more, not less” on the issue in the future.
“The shape of the nation we leave to our children and grandchildren depends on what we do together next.”
He added that the ACL intends to work to “protect Australian kids from being exposed to radical LGBTIQ sex and gender education in the classrooms”.
Before the result was announced, Shelton shared this image on Twitter:
One of our volunteers had this happen to them this morning in Sydney. This type of behaviour by either side is unacceptable & unAustralian. pic.twitter.com/ko2rbAJ96l
— Lyle Shelton (@LyleShelton) November 14, 2017
It is one of many examples of abuse suffered by supporters of traditional marriage.
An article for The Spectator Australia highlights the wide-ranging effects that legalising same-sex marriage has had in the UK since it became legal in 2013.
David Sergeant wrote: “In the United Kingdom, it has become abundantly clear that redefinition has affected many people, across many spheres. At first glance, these spheres appeared distinct from marriage redefinition. However, subsequent changes have proved that they are entirely intertwined.”
He particularly highlighted the fact that freedom of religion has suffered since the change.
“Much was made in the UK about supposed exemptions, designed to ensure that believers would always be allowed to stay true to their convictions. Four years later, the very same people who made ‘heartfelt promises’, now work tirelessly to undermine them.”
Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron celebrated the result on Twitter:
I’m incredibly proud of legalising Same Sex Marriage in the UK & delighted that other countries are looking to do the same. G’day Australia! https://t.co/Beg9poCc1T
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) November 15, 2017
In 2013, Mr Cameron said he wanted to export same-sex marriage around the world.