The mail survey asking Australians to vote on marriage equality ended Tuesday, November 7, at 4:30pm local time.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reportedly received some 12.6 million ballots before the deadline, with more than 78.5% of eligible voters returning theirs by Friday, November 3.
“We are grateful for the amount of Australians who have participated in this process,” New South Wales politician and LGBT advocate Alex Greenwich told Sky News Australia.
With the postal survey's last NSW YES voter, Claire, who dropped off her yes at 4:28pm!!! Thank you to everyone who worked so hard for YES pic.twitter.com/pHuF3Wgxqs
— Alex Greenwich MP (@AlexGreenwich) November 7, 2017
According to a Guardian poll, 64% of respondents replied that they’d voted “Yes” of marriage equality. (Pro-equality votes increased more than 11% over the span of two weeks.)
But even if love wins the day, it came at a ugly cost: As activists predicted, the survey fueled homophobic flyers, messages and campaigns across Australia.
“It has been virtually impossible for anyone who identifies as queer to avoid exposure to views which condemn who they are as a person,” said Matilda Alexander of the LGBTI Legal Service. “The LGBTI community has had to put up with weeks of destructive commentary which only takes society backwards on the progress which has lead to broader acceptance of LGBTI people in the last 30 years.”
Official results from the survey are expected on November 15. It’s not legally binding but will make it easier for lawmakers to introduce equal marriage legislation in parliament.