British Prime Minister Theresa May calls on Australian government to ‘act very soon’ on same-sex marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Theresa May has called on the Australian government to act quickly to implement same-sex marriage, following the results of their national vote on the issue.

61.6% of Australians voted Yes when asked whether they wanted to introduce same-sex marriage.

Almost 13 million citizens (79.5%) took part in the vote, with the country now expected to become the 25th country in the world to introduce marriage for same-sex couples.

Out Conservative MP Iain Stewart asked the Prime Minister if she welcomed the equality vote.

Responding, May told the British Parliament: “I’m very happy to join my honourable friend.

“I am as proud as he and many others were when we passed the legislation here in this house, and made possible same sex marriage here in the United Kingdom and I hope that the Australian government will take that vote and act on it very soon.”

Theresa May at the PinkNews Awards

She adds her voice to David Cameron’s, who was British Prime Minister when the measure was approved in England and Wales.

He wrote on Twitter: “I’m incredibly proud of legalising Same Sex Marriage in the UK & delighted that other countries are looking to do the same.

Adding: “G’day Australia!”

The results were announced at 9am Australian Eastern Daylight Time (11pm GMT) by statistician David W Kalisch.

12,727,920 people responded to the survey with a response rate of 79 percent, which Mr Kalisch said was an “oustanding” turnout.

Yes responses represented 61.6 percent of responses with 38.4 percent voting No.

Higher turnout with older participants and lower with younger participants, but “not markedly so”.

Celebrations took place from early Wednesday morning as Yes campaign headquarters across Australia opened their doors ahead of the result.

The No campaign conceded defeat, having previously said it would settle for a result over 40 percent, with Tony Abbott, former Prime Minister, claiming that would be a “moral” victory.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is a personal supporter of the equality law, pledged that his government would support the move in the case of a Yes vote.

Turnbull has previously said same-sex couples could be married by the end of the this year if voters back Yes.

However the decision ultimately has to be approved by parliament.

The public vote is not legally binding, so both houses still need to pass legislation for it to become legal.

Monday is the first day that a same-sex marriage bill can be tabled in the House of Representatives, which is not sitting this week.

A bill must pass in both houses before it can be signed into law by the Governor-General.

Hardline anti-LGBT MPs within the governing Liberal-National Coalition say they will not be conceding – even if the public gives a strong backing for equality.

Two bills will be proposed to parliament – one by a coalition of same-sex marriage supporters proposing simply to introduce the other measure, and another by a right-wing Senator proposing same-sex marriage, but with various “religious freedoms”.

Liberal James Paterson is to introduce the caveated bill that would override any anti-discrimination laws passed by state and territory level legislatures.

It will permit anyone who holds a religious or “conscientious belief” in traditional marriage to refuse same-sex weddings, allowing discrimination by private service providers.

The proposal comes after a bombshell poll found half of Australians support service providers being allowed to refuse same-sex weddings on the basis of private religious views.

Hardliners may also table a string of amendments if their desired bill doesn’t go through, in a bid to seriously change or slow the introduction.

However it seems unlikely same-sex marriage will not be introduced in some form, with the opposition Labor Party supporting the measure, and a majority of parliamentarians in favour.