Australia's parliament passed a bill legalising same-sex marriage on Thursday, after the nation overwhelmingly voted in favour of changing the law, ending decades of political wrangling.
There were loud cheers, hugs and sustained clapping in the 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 quality, for respect! Australia has done it," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the House.
The final step is for the Governor General Peter Cosgrove, the Queen's representative in Australia, to ratify the law, which will likely take place within days.
On 29 November, Australia's upper house senate had passed a bill paving the way for the legalisation of gay marriage, rejecting conservative efforts to add religious exemptions to the legislation.
Turnbull had vowed to pass the bill before Christmas after most lawmakers agreed to honour the "will of Australians", who voted in favour of same-sex marriage in a recent nationwide postal vote.
"We are a part of an act of acceptance, an act of inclusion, an act of respect, an act of celebration, a day when this Senate declares our acceptance of our LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex, queer) brothers and our sisters," Australia's highest-profile gay politician, Labor's Penny Wong, had said at the time. "(The bill) says to so many Australians, this parliament, this country, accepts you for who you are. Your love is not lesser, and nor are you."
Australia follows neighbour New Zealand, which had passed a law in April 2013 legalising gay marriage and adoptions.
Published Date: Dec 07, 2017 01:05 pm | Updated Date: Dec 07, 2017 01:05 pm