SYDNEY - Australia's House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage, passing a historic Bill on Thursday (Dec 7) that drew broad cross-party support.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's government had introduced the Bill after a postal ballot indicated widespread support for same-sex marriage across the country. When the results of the vote in favour of the Bill were announced, the House and public galleries were full of cheers, shouts, applause, hugs, kisses and general jubilation, reported the BBC.
All but four MPs voted for the Bill, which is set to become law in days after it goes to the Governor-General, reported ABC News.
"What a day! What a day for love, for quality, for respect! Australia has done it," said Mr Turnbull just before the parliamentary vote.
"The Parliament has got on with it and we have voted today for equality, for love. It is time for more marriages, more commitment, more love, more respect, and we respect every Australian who was voted, those who voted yes, and those who voted no, this belongs to us all, this is Australia!"
"Let's do it, let's finalise the deal right now!" he said, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten also spoke ahead of vote, saying: "Australia, we are going to make marriage equality a reality in minutes. The Australia of tomorrow begins with what we do today. At long last, LGBTIQ Australians will be equal under the law."
"And when this law is passed, we should declare that we are no longer a nation of people who voted no. Or people who voted yes. We are simply Australians one and all. And I said to LGBTIQ Australians in particular, you have given us a gift.
"This Parliament, when we passed the marriage equality law, is not a gift from us to LGBTIQ Australians, equality is never a gift to be given. Equality isn't in our legal birthright of every Australian and this equality is long overdue," said Mr Shorten.
Australia's Senate had voted decisively in favour of the gay marriage Bill last week, reported the BBC.
During the Lower House debate, more than 100 MPs spoke for over 28 hours on the proposed Bill. Some lawmakers, including former prime minister Tony Abbott, sought to insert amendments into the Bill, but all of the proposed changes were voted down.
Many supporters of the Bill travelled to Canberra to witness the outcome of the parliamentary process.