29 Nov 2017

Australian same-sex bill passes Senate

5:22 pm on 29 November 2017

The bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia has passed the Senate, but with a sitting week cancelled in the House of Representatives MPs will not continue debate until next week.

Supporters of the same-sex marriage "Yes" vote celebrate in a Sydney park shortly after the announcement.

Supporters of the same-sex marriage "Yes" vote celebrate in Sydney earlier this month. Photo: AFP

The bill passed without amendment, with 43 senators voting yes and 12 no.

The bill will now be debated by the Lower House when MPs return to Canberra next week, paving the way for same-sex marriage to be legalised by Christmas.

At that hearing, MPs will need a majority vote in favour of changing the Marriage Act and if that final vote is in favour the Governor-General will approve it.

There are several possible routes for law change in Australian parliamentary law - but both chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate, must agree to an identical form.

Liberal senator Dean Smith, who authored the bill, told his Senate colleagues before the vote that while it had been a difficult journey to get to this point, the debate over the bill had been "good for the soul" of all Australians.

"We should not fear conscience. The more the debate was resisted, the more the strength was found to fight for it," he said.

"At some later point, we should reflect on how we can avoid that tortured process from ever having to happen again.

"This debate has been good for the soul of the country.

"It has been good for the soul of this chamber and it will be good for the souls of LGBTI children throughout our great country."

Penny Wong, Labor's leader in the Senate, said it was an historic day for all Australians.

"Today we stand on the cusp of a remarkable achievement and an historic event, and we pause briefly to reflect, just for a moment, on what we are a part of," she said.

"We are part of an act of acceptance, an act of inclusion, an act of respect, an act of celebration - a day when this Senate declares our acceptance of our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters.