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Australians have voted in support of same-sex marriage - and Hollywooders are applauding the decision.

Nearly 62 per cent of the 12.7 million people who participated in the two-month postal survey voted in favour of allowing gay marriage, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced at a press conference in Canberra.

The former prime minister wasn't the only MP whose views on marriage were rebuffed by the people they purport to represent in parliament.

"Now it's up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the people have asked us to do and get it done this year, before Christmas".

"It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming". Every state and territory recorded over 60 per cent "yes" result except New South Wales, which recorded 57.8 per cent approval. Around three-quarters of the electorate - more than 12.6 million people - took part. Parliamentary debate to legalise same-sex marriage could begin as early as tomorrow.

Although the mail-in poll is non-binding, it nonetheless ensures that Parliament will consider ensconcing the popular sentiment as law - a bill to do just that was introduced in the Senate late Wednesday after the results of the poll became known. The Equality Campaign described the result as resounding and historic.

The bill will need the approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives before it passes into law.

"Many Australians voted "No" because they fear a world where they won't be able to live their identity", Senator Smith said.

Senator Smith, himself both a gay man and a Christian, told the chamber he understood the concerns of religious Australians who objected to same-sex marriage. The UN Human Rights Committee last week criticised Australia for putting gays and lesbians "through an unnecessary and divisive public opinion poll".

Irish-born Qantas Airways Chief Executive Alan Joyce, one of the few openly gay business leaders in Australia, told the Sydney crowd, many of whom sheltered from the sun under rainbow umbrellas, that the result was "an unbelievable outcome" and urged Turnbull to move quickly on legislation.

On the strength of the "yes" vote, conservatives dropped a plan for a competing bill that would have allowed private businesses to refuse services like wedding cakes for same-sex weddings by objecting on religious grounds.


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