A flurry of tears and applause has greeted the Senate passage of a landmark bill legalising same-sex marriage.
Liberal Dean Smith’s largely unamended private bill sailed through the upper house on Wednesday with senators voting 43-12 in favour of changing the Marriage Act.
“In a world where there are more tensions between people, our country has offered a loving embrace to its own,” an emotional Senator Smith said ahead of the vote.
“A few brief moments of joy is what our country has ached for because we know it will result in a lifetime of joy for so many others.”
Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said the bill’s passage was a historic moment.
“It says to so many Australians, this parliament, this country, accepts you for who you are,” she said.
“Your love is not lesser, and nor are you. It says you’re one of us.”
Attorney-General George Brandis, who made a passionate speech during the debate, said it was a proud moment for democracy.
“We should rejoice in what the Australian people have achieved this year,” he said.
The bill now goes to the lower house for a debate likely to start on Monday, and a vote before the end of the week.
If any amendments are added in the House of Representatives, the bill will have return to the Senate for approval.
Labor senator Louise Pratt praised the activist movement which had led to legislative change.