Monday 20 August 2018

'It's been the most incredible journey' - Irishman behind Australia's marriage equality yes vote celebrates win

Tiernan Brady, Director of Australia's Equality Campaign
Tiernan Brady, Director of Australia's Equality Campaign
Jason Kennedy

Jason Kennedy

The Donegal man working as Director of Australia's Equality Campaign has expressed his delight at the country's overwhelming vote for same-sex marriage.

At around 11.20pm Irish time, Australia's chief statistician revealed that 61.6 percent of voters surveyed favoured marriage equality, with 38.4 percent against.

Supporters of the 'Yes' vote react as they celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Melbourne, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Melanie Burton
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote react as they celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Melbourne, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Melanie Burton
Members of Sydney's gay community react as they celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a pub located on Sydney's Oxford street, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore

The result ties closely to Ireland's 2015 vote for marriage equality, where 62.07 percent voted for and 37.93 per cent voted against.

Australia will become the 26th nation to formalise the unions if the legislation is passed by parliament, which is expected despite some vocal opposition within the government's conservative right wing.

Members of Sydney's gay community react as they celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a pub located on Sydney's Oxford street, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore
Members of Sydney's gay community react as they celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a pub located on Sydney's Oxford street, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore
A supporter of the 'Yes' vote holds a colourful flag as he celebrates after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Australian government senator Dean Smith, center, flanked by lawmakers who support marriage equality, speaks to journalists at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Smith has drafted the prime minister's referred bill that could legalize same-sex marriage this year. (AP Photo/Rod McGuirk)
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote hug each other as they celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
People celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote react as they celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Melbourne, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Melanie Burton
Members of Sydney's gay community react as they celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a pub located on Sydney's Oxford street, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore
People celebrate after the announcement of the same-sex marriage postal survey result in front of the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (David Crosling/AAP Image via AP)
People celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reacts as he speaks during a media conference regarding the outcome of the Marriage Equality survey in Canberra, Australia, November 15, 2017. AAP/Dean Lewins/via REUTERS
Ian Thorpe, former Olympic gold medalist swimmer, stands with other supporters of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
Supporters of the 'Yes' vote for marriage equality celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray

Irishman Tiernan Brady, who has been working on the campaign since April 2016 is delighted with the result, but says it doesn't come as too much of a shock.

"The more I travelled, the more I realised the values of Australia are aligned with the values of Irish. It's no surprise at all that the results almost match that of Ireland's vote," he told Independent.ie.

"It's been the most incredible journey. The Australian people are utterly phenomenal. It's like Ireland with hot weather.

"Their message today is one of confidence in their values and their country. Their message to LGBTI people is one of generosity and inclusion. Their message to politicians is clear. it is time for them to do their jobs and pass marriage equality."

Read More: 'Here we go again’ – Senior figures in Ireland’s marriage referendum help lead campaign for equality in Australia

Despite the similarity to Ireland's result, Brady, who formerly worked as Political Director during Ireland's referendum, says there were enormous differences too.

People celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
People celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray

"The great challenge we had here was the scale of the country.  In Ireland, we could get up in the morning and drive to the other side of the county, have lunch and be home again later. We don’t have that here.

"The challenge from that, was how do you make sure people in towns and villages across Australia know how powerful their vote is."

Mr Brady was originally brought to Australia in January 2015 to spend a few days speaking to advocacy groups, but was asked to front the campaign a few days into his trip.

Since the announcement, which took place early in the morning in Sydney, Brady has been inundated with messages of support from well-known faces.

People celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
People celebrate after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
People celebrate after the announcement of the same-sex marriage postal survey result in front of the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (David Crosling/AAP Image via AP)
A supporter of the 'Yes' vote holds a colourful flag as he celebrates after it was announced the majority of Australians support same-sex marriage in a national survey, paving the way for legislation to make the country the 26th nation to formalise the unions by the end of the year, at a rally in central Sydney, Australia, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray

Read More: Australia voted YES for marriage equality and the internet is a lovely place to be

"I think Australia should give Tiernan brady honorary citizenship, make him a Dame, and give him a kangaroo or a billabong or whatever," Panti tweeted.

"He did an amazing job as Director of @AMEquality. He’ll probably never come home now though."

However, Mr Brady says he will be home in Bundoran for Christmas.

"I missed Christmas last year and I still have an Irish mother, so you can't miss two in a row," he said.

Mr Brady, who formerly worked with now defunct charity GLEN, will return to Australia in January and has yet to decide whether he will return to live in Ireland.

An Irishman who travelled to Australia to lobby for a no vote has also offered his congratulations to Brady and the yes campaign.

Read More: In Pictures: Rainbow celebrations as Australians vote for same-sex marriage

Keith Mills, who also campaigned for a no vote in Ireland referendum, tweeted: "Congratulations to Tiernan Brady  & Yes campaign in Australian marriage vote. Will be good to have him back in Ireland & to fight on the 99% of issues on which we agree."

The voluntary poll was non-binding, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull immediately said he would fulfill a pledge to raise a bill in parliament with the aim of passing laws by Christmas.

"It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming. They have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality," Turnbull told reporters in Canberra after the survey results were announced. "They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love."

The result marks a watershed moment for gay rights in Australia, where it was illegal in some states to engage in homosexual activity until 1997.

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