Legal Challenge To Australia's Marriage Equality Vote Fails

Voluntary surveys will be sent out starting September 12.

A legal challenge to the upcoming public vote on marriage equality in Australia has been rejected, paving the way for the survey to go ahead later this month.

LGBT activists had petitioned the court to block the vote, claiming it was an unconstitutional use of taxpayers' money. (It's believed the cost of the survey could top $97 million U.S..)

But on Thursday, the High Court ruled the national survey was legal, and surveys will be sent out starting September 12. A final tally is expected on November 15.


A Vote Yes mural supporting same-sex marriage adorns the side of a building in Sydney on September 7, 2017.Australia's High Court on September 7, threw out two challenges to a same-sex marriage postal vote planned by the government, paving the way for a national survey on whether such unions should be legalised. / AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

"All Australians deserve the same opportunity for love, commitment and happiness," said the Human Rights Law Center's Anna Brown. "All people in Australia should be able to marry the person they love. This plebiscite was completely and is completely unnecessary.

She added that while the LGBT community didn't ask for the survey, "the court has determined [it] will go ahead... [so] vote 'yes' for love."

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 26: A couple kiss at the conclusion of a mock wedding at the State Library of Victoria during a Rally For Marriage Equality on August 26, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. This month marks thirteen years since the Marriage Act was amended to restrict marriage rights to heterosexual couples. Australia is now preparing for postal vote on whether same-sex marriage should be legalised. The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is due to be sent out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on September 12. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who initially requested a mandatory plebiscite, says he and his wife will be voting in favor of same-sex marriage Down Under. "And I'll be encouraging others to be voting 'yes.'"

Supporters of marriage equality also worried that a national vote would fuel campaigns of homophobia across Australia—a fear that has borne out: Vicious anti-LGBT posters have popped up in major cities, and religious leaders have been criticized for condemning parishioners who support equality. One Greek Orthodox priest reportedly told his congregation that a "yes" vote was "blasphemy."

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