Australian government approves same-sex marriage

Last updated at 14:18
The rainbow flag hangs in front of Australian flags outside Australia House on November 16, 2017 in London, England. Australia voted yesterday to legalise same-sex marriage in a historic poll.Getty Images

Australia's government has passed a law to make same-sex marriage legal, with only four politicians voting against it.

It comes after 61% of the Australian public - more than 12 million people - voted in support of same-sex marriage last month.

MPs cheered and clapped as the law was passed, following hours of debate and speeches in the Australian parliament.

Following the vote, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: "What a day for love, for equality, for respect."

"Australia has done it."

Emotional MPs hugged each other before supporters in the public gallery began singing "I am, you are, we are Australian".

Tracy Clark and her partner Justyna Greinart embrace as they gather with a crowd of people to watch a large television screen at Federation Square as it is announced that same-sex marriage will be legal in Australia with Parliament agreeing to change the Marriage Act and end the ban on gay and lesbian couples marrying on December 7, 2017 in Melbourne, AustraliaGetty Images

Many supporters of same-sex marriage also gathered on the lawn outside parliament.

Australia's governor-general is expected to approve the bill in the coming days, which will make it officially the law.

But the countries first same-sex weddings will not take place until at least January.

That's because of a rule for all Australian couples that they have to give a full month's notice of their plan to get married.

More than 100 MPs had spoken in the Australian parliament on the topic, with many senators and MPs telling personal stories to explain why they supported the bill.

One MP, Tim Wilson, even ended his speech with a marriage proposal to his partner.

Tim Wilson speaks against amendments to the marriage equality bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House on December 7, 2017 in Canberra, Australia.Getty Images
Tim Wilson asked "Will you marry me?" to his partner who was sitting in the public gallery, and he said yes!

There were some people in Australia who didn't want the law to be passed.

Others wanted special protections for religious groups, but politicians voted not to support this.

Under the new laws, ministers of religion and people who carry out marriages will be able to act in accordance with their beliefs about whether or not they conduct ceremonies.

Religious bodies will also be able to follow with their practices and beliefs in providing facilities, goods and services in connection with marriage.