Saturday 21st July, 2018
5 ℃ | 16 ℃Sydney
Tuesday marks the start of a month-long voluntary vote that could eventually legalize same-sex marriage in Australia.

As many as 16 million Australians will receive a mail-in ballot asking them to vote either 'yes' or 'no' on the issue and mail it back by November.If a majority of ballots are marked 'yes,' Parliament will follow through with a formal vote in December.

A new opinion survey released Tuesday indicated 70 percent of those questioned said they support same-sex marriage.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who says he will mark 'yes' on his ballot, launched the voluntary mail-in vote after lawmakers rejected a plan to hold a compulsory vote known as a plebiscite.Gay rights advocates unsuccessfully challenged the plan in Australia's High Court, arguing that Turnbull's government does not have the authority to spend $97 million on the mail-in ballot.

Advocates also expressed fears the vote could expose Australia's gay, lesbian and transgender community to harm.They are demanding lawmakers hold a simple up-or-down vote.

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