A bill that proposes to legalise same-sex marriages in Australia was passed on Wednesday by the Senate without any major changes, and now awaits approval from the House of Representatives before it becomes law.
The bill was introduced by Senator Dean Smith on November 16, a day after 61.6% of the country voted ‘yes’ to legalise gay marriages in a voluntary survey.
After the result was read out, Senators applauded and embraced each other in celebration, BBC reported. The lower house, the House of Representatives, will take up the bill for debate next week.
The Senate passed the bill 43-12, dismissing objections from some conservative lawmakers who wanted to allow businesses that object to same-sex marriages – such as florists, musicians and caterers – to refuse service to same-sex couples. However, “religious celebrants”, such as priests, who do not want to solemnise such marriages will be able to say no.
Other amendments that were rejected included one that proposed defining marriages in two ways – the ones between “a man and a woman” and the ones between “two people” – and to allow parents to remove their children from schools that taught differently from their views on marriage.
“The Australian people voted to lessen discrimination, not to extend it and we, the Senate, have respected that vote by rejecting amendments which sought to extend discrimination, or derail marriage equality,” Labor Party Senator Penny Wong said in the Parliament.
Australia will become the 26th country to allow same-sex marriage if it passes the legislation.
The results of the postal poll earlier this month are not binding on the Australian Parliament, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of the Liberal Party had vowed to fulfill his promise to introduce a bill aiming to pass a law allowing same-sex marriage by Christmas.