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Australian High Court Clears Way for Nationwide Survey on Same-sex Marriage


Hand-written messages line at a call center for the 'Yes' campaign in Australia's gay marriage vote, as Australia's high court allows a government plan for a postal vote to legalize same-sex marriage, in Sydney, Australia, Sept. 6, 2017.

Australia's High Court has cleared the way for citizens to express their views for or against same-sex marriage in a nationwide mail-in ballot.

The court rejected two separate legal challenges to the proposed survey after two days of hearings, but did not issue any written opinions.

The High Court's decision means the government can go ahead and begin mailing the ballots next week, with the results to be announced in November. If a majority of "yes" ballots are returned, lawmakers would follow through with a vote on the measure the following month.

Gay rights advocates went to the Melbourne-based court seeking to scrap the plan out of concern the ballot would stoke anti-gay violence.

Prime Minister Turnbull, who supports same-sex marriage, praised the court's decision in Parliament Thursday. "I will be encouraging others to vote 'yes'," Turnbull said, and urged every Australian to vote "to have their say."

Turnbull launched the voluntary mail-in balloting after Parliament voted down a plan to hold a binding plebiscite.