Australia edges closer to same-sex marriage vote

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A rainbow flag was unfurled in the chamber as MPs cheered, clapped and hugged. Government minister Peter Dutton, a leader among hard-right lawmakers in the conservative government, said his fellow leading gay-marriage opponents in Parliament agree they should not stop the bill from becoming law while arguing over protecting views of gay-marriage opponents.

Those who opposed the bill were Bob Katter, Keith Pitt, David Littleproud and Russell Broadbent.

"What a day for love, for equality, for respect".

"We must not fail to recognize that there is honest, heartfelt anxiety about the bill's impact on religious freedom", Turnbull said.

"It's time for more marriages, more commitment, more love, more respect".

The bill will become law in the next few days after it goes to the Governor-General.

Thousands of same-sex couples living in Australia who were married overseas will instantly have their unions recognised under the law.

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An Australian parliamentary vote on whether to legalise same-sex marriage is imminent after MPs reached the final stages of debate on a historic bill.

The legal change brings Australia into line with the majority of the English-speaking world, with same-sex marriage already legal in 25 countries including Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the UK (excluding Northern Ireland). Gay marriage was endorsed by 62 percent of Australian voters who responded to a government-commissioned postal ballot by last month.

Many same-sex marriage supporters have travelled to Canberra to witness the outcome in the lower house.

All of the proposed amendments to the Bill, from each end of the political spectrum were voted down. Changes suggested by the Greens were also defeated.

When the result was announced, there was a standing ovation in parliament.

Among them was Christine Forster, the gay sister of Tony Abbott, the former Australian Prime Minister who has always been seen as the face of the "no" campaign.

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