Australia says yes to same-sex marriage in postal survey

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Marriage equality advocates show their support during Australia's same sex marriage postal vote.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has arrived back in Australia ahead of the release of the same-sex marriage postal survey results.

The result is expected to mirror a myriad of opinion polls pointing to a win for the "yes" campaign, possibly as high as 60 per cent.

It would be "a mockery of the process" if parliament delayed, obfuscated or used political games to delay an outcome on same-sex marriage.

Almost 80 per cent of eligible Australians took part in the voluntary poll, a return rate that compares more than favourably with the 91 per cent who voted at the compulsory 2016 federal election.

But even if the yes vote prevails then the matter does not end today, and same sex marriage will not automatically be legalised.

Nevertheless, discussions are well under underway as to how same-sex marriage might be legislated.

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Australians have voted yes on marriage equality.

Liberal Senator Dean Smith has said he will introduce a bill to parliament this week to legalize same-sex marriage. Coalition parliamentarians, who were previously required to vote against marriage equality will now be given a free vote, Labor MPs are nearly universally in favour and a majority of crossbenchers will also support the bill. Liberal senator James Paterson's bill is also far more stringent.

Liberal senators Linda Reynolds and Jane Hume, Labor's Penny Wong and Louise Pratt, the Greens' Richard Di Natale and Janet Rice, Skye Kakoschke-Moore from the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch all signed the motion with Smith.

Australia is the second country to hold a popular vote on the reform after Ireland, which backed same-sex marriage through a constitutionally required vote in 2015.

The postal survey saw 16 million registered voters among Australia's population of 24 million asked for their views on overturning the prohibition.

The proposal has already been rejected by Turnbull, who said yesterday while still overseas that "I don't believe Australians would welcome, and certainly the government ... would not countenance making legal, discrimination that is illegal, that is unlawful today".