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WATCH LIVE: Australia’s equal marriage vote

At 10 am Australian time on November 15, and 11 pm UK time tonight, we’ll finally know the result of the Australian equal marriage vote.

At the moment of truth, you will be able to watch the result live from Sydney here, thanks to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras:

WATCH ON THIS LINK

‘Yes’

The polls have been showing a win for the ‘yes’ campaign, with the final poll showing a strengthening within the ‘yes’ camp. It shows 63% of respondents supporting same-sex marriage, leaving the ‘no’ camp trailing far behind at 37%.

However, even at this late stage and even with such a gulf between the two sides, it’s far too soon to be calling victory. We must learn, after all, from Brexit and Trump…though the running was far closer in both cases.

Whatever the result in the coming hours, it won’t necessarily make any difference to LGBT+ people in Australia as in reality, this vote is little more than a state-supported opinion poll with parliament effectively free to ignore the result.

Still, it would be hugely difficult for any sitting government to ignore a resounding ‘yes’ result and a marriage equality bill is expected to be voted on quickly following a victory for the ‘yes’ campaign. Might we soon be seeing similar scenes in Canberra to those in New Zealand 4 years ago? The jury is out on what the Australian parliamentarians might sing. Something by Kylie, perhaps…

The postal vote asked Australians: “Do you support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

To which they had the opportunity to answer: “Yes” or “No”.

The ballot boxes closed at 6 pm Australian time on November 7 and the count has been taking place in secret since.

If there’s a “Yes” result tonight?

If the postal vote delivers a majority “yes” result, the government will allow a private member’s bill to be introduced to the house in the final sitting fortnight of the year. Members of parliament will then be given a free vote, where it is expected to pass.

If there’s a “No” result tonight?

If the postal vote delivers a majority “No” result, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has said no bill will proceed.

The Marriage Equality campaign has fought hard across an often bitter divide, with the Coalition for Marriage in Australia, the Catholic church and conservative politicians claiming equal marriage will remove parents’ rights, brainwash children and destroy traditional values.

It’s been a long and tireless campaign but the surf of modern public opinion, particularly in Australia’s cosmopolitan cities, has always appeared to be moving towards change and acceptance. The lights were switched off in the AU Marriage Equality Offices around 5 hours ago and their countless volunteers and supporters will be hoping for the sun to rise on a country that’s chosen to step into a new, sunnier Australian future that says “love is love” for all.

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