Australia became the 26th nation to legalize same-sex marriage after it was officially signed into law, a day after MPs overwhelmingly approved a historic bill.
Australia’s Governor-General Peter Cosgrove signed off on the law on Friday, a formality required to enact the legislation, Reuters and BBC News report.
The vote on Thursday set off rarely matched celebrations in parliament, including cheers, hugs and a song.
Supporters celebrated, many donning rainbow colors, across the country where some states ruled homosexual acts to be illegal until just 20 years ago.
Fewer than five of 150 MPs voted against it.
“What a day. What a day for love, for equality, for respect,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “It is time for more marriages.”
“It is a big Australian hug for all same-sex couples, saying we love and respect you, now go out there and get married,” he said.
Cosgrove, the Queen’s representative in Australia, said he would immediately consider its starting date. It is likely to be Saturday, local media reported.
The government said it expected that marriage ceremonies would take place from 9 January, given couples must give a month’s notice of their intention to wed.
Same-sex weddings conducted overseas will be immediately recognized in Australia.
Five-time Olympic gold-medal winner, the swimmer Ian Thorpe, who came out in 2014, said the law reflected contemporary Australia and would support people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual queer or intersex (LGBTQI).
“It will give each of us the sense of what modern Australia is, and is, in fact, the way that most of us see this country as being, and will allow LGBTQI people in our nation to know that fairness is one of our values,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Australians had overwhelmingly endorsed legalizing same-sex marriage in a postal survey.
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