SYDNEY: Australians voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry, official results showed Wednesday, sending the task of legalising marriage equality to a deeply divided parliament.

Almost 62 percent of the 12.7 million people who participated in the two-month postal survey voted in favour of allowing gay marriage, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced at a press conference in Canberra. The “no” vote garnered 38.4 percent.

Nearly 80 percent of eligible voters took part in the poll, said the chief of the statistics bureau Davis Kalisch, adding: “Australians can have confidence these statistics reflect the view of the eligible population.”

Same-sex couples could be able to marry by Christmas, but first parliament must adopt legislation giving the non-binding vote result the force of law.

Thousands of marriage equality supporters erupted into celebrations at rallies in major cities across Australia when the result was announced.

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