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Australia parliament passes same-sex marriage bill

People walk past a giant billboard promoting the "yes" vote for same-sex marriage in Sydney's Kings Cross district
William WEST (AFP)
Final step is for Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, the Queen's representative in Australia, to ratify the law

Australia's parliament passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage Thursday after the nation overwhelmingly voted in favor of changing the law, ending decades of political wrangling.

There were loud cheers, hugs and sustained clapping in the lower House of Representatives when all but four MPs voted in support of marriage equality, after the upper house Senate passed the bill 43-12 last week.

"What a day for love, for quality, for respect! Australia has done it," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the House.

The final step is for the Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, the Queen's representative in Australia, to ratify the law, which will likely take place within days.

Turnbull had vowed to move a bill in favor of marriage equality by Christmas, after almost 62 percent of the 12.7 million Australians who participated in a two-month non-binding postal survey voted last month in favor of allowing gay marriage.

Nearly 80 percent of eligible voters took part in the poll, despite fears that many young people might not respond to the postal survey in the digital age.

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