A two-month national postal survey in Australia revealed overwhelming support for same-sex marriage legalisation.
The Australian Bureau of Statistic released results on Wednesday (15 November) that showed 61% of people voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, while 38% voted against. More than 12.7m Australians, or 79.5% of the population, participated in the survey, CNN reported.
Crowds throughout Australia celebrated the results with confetti, colourful smoke and rainbow flags. In Melbourne, the announcement was met with singing, tears and hugs.
Despite celebrations, the results of the survey are not legally binding and it will now be up to the Federal Parliament to debate any legislation.
According to ABC, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is hoping to have same-sex marriage legalised by Christmas. Turnbull called the results an "overwhelming" response in favour of "yes".
"They voted 'yes' for fairness, they voted 'yes' for commitment, they voted 'yes' for love. And now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it," he told reporters.
The process could begin as soon as Thursday (16 November, with two bills drafted by Liberals being presented to the Senate. However, conservative politicians have been preparing for a fight over how marriage equality would be legalised even before the results were released.
Although Australians have long favoured marriage equality, several governments have said they preferred to keep the traditional definitions in law, CNN noted.
In 2015, following pressure from members of his party, then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a plebiscite would be held to decide if marriage equality should be legislated. However, he was unable to get funding.
Turnbull, Abbott's successor, announced the national postal vote in August.