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Australia votes to legalise same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage is to be legalised in Australia, after the nation voted 'overwhelmingly' in favour of allowing gay couples to marry down under in the future.

Some 61.6 per cent of Australians voted to allow same-sex couples to get married, according to the count data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Announcing the result of the nationwide poll, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull stated: "Australians have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality.

"They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love."

Following the vote count, a new government bill was immediately introduced that will now be debated in parliament. Mr Turnbull said he hopes that the new legislation will be formally in place by Christmas, meaning it could be a mere matter of weeks before the first same-sex weddings take place in Australia.

The decision was only put out to a postal vote in the first place because parliament was unable to decide whether same-sex marriage should be legalised, so it was ruled that the people should be able to have their say instead.

The announcement of the result has been met with huge public celebrations, with much singing, dancing and rainbow flag-waving.

Initial analysis of the vote results by chief statistician David Kalisch shows that around 7.8 million people voted in the poll, which means some 4.9 million were against allowing same-sex marriage in Australia.

In 146 of the country's 150 electorates, turnout was believed to be over 70 per cent, with all but 17 supporting a change in the law.

Last month, the Queensland Department of Tourism published a report claiming that business and tourism across Australia would receive a significant boost if the country voted to legalise same-sex marriage, as it could be an attractive wedding destination for gay couples from all over the world.

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