Sydney, Nov 15: Majority of citizens of Australia voted in favour of same-sex marriage in a historic postal survey. 61.6 per cent of voters said ‘Yes’ to marriage equality, while 38.4 percent voted in against, announced Australian Bureau of Statistics. Celebrations have begun across the country after the historic victory for same-sex or gay marriage. More than 12.7 million people — about 79.5 per cent of eligible voters — took part in the eight-week postal survey.

With Australians ‘overwhelmingly’ backing same-sex marriage, the country is set to become the 26th nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the “overwhelming” result meant his government would aim to change the law in parliament before Christmas. “They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it,” Turnbull said.

Supporters began celebrating the result in public spaces across Australia on Wednesday, waving rainbow flags and singing and dancing. “This is an amazing outcome and we should all be very proud of this amazing country,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, a prominent same-sex marriage supporter, told a jubilant crowd in Sydney.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a high-profile same-sex marriage opponent, said the parliament should “respect the result”. “I always said this was an issue where the Australian people wanted their say and today’s result demonstrates that seeking their views was the right thing to do,” he wrote on Facebook.

Turnbull, a strong same-sex marriage supporter, is facing debate within his government over what the parliamentary bill should include. Some conservative MPs are pushing for the the bill to include exemptions that would allow businesses opposed to same-sex marriage to refuse goods and services for weddings.

(With IANS inputs)