Canberra: Celebrations broke out across Australia on Wednesday after a two-month national postal survey came out "overwhelmingly" in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in the country.

Results released earlier in the day by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed 61 per cent of the population voted to allow same-sex marriage, with 38 per cent voting against it, reports CNN.

More than 12.7 million people across the country, or 79.5 per cent of the population, took part in the survey with every state and territory returning a majority "yes".

Voting had opened on September 12 and Australians who had registered to vote had until November 7 to return their surveys.

Speaking after the result, Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it had been an "overwhelming" response in favour of "yes" and called for same-sex marriage to be legalised before Christmas.

"They voted 'yes' for fairness, they voted 'yes' for commitment, they voted 'yes' for love. And now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with it," he told reporters in Canberra.

Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten also welcomed the result, saying: "I feel for young people who had their relationships questioned in a way I wouldn't have thought we would see ever again, but nevertheless what this marriage equality survey shows is that unconditional love always has the last word."

Politicians are expected to begin discussing the specifics of the same-sex marriage bill as early as this week, CNN reported.

Prominent supporters of same-sex marriage celebrated the decision. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce danced on stage in Sydney with author and actor Magda Szubanski, and urged Turnbull to "get on with it."

Australian Olympic champion Ian Thorpe, who came out as gay three years ago, warned conservative politicians against delaying the legislation.

Meanwhile, rainbow-coloured smoke, confetti and cheers erupted in the centre of Melbourne following the announcement, where hundreds of people had gathered to hear the result.

When couple Jane Mahoney, 28, and Josie Lennie, 26, heard the result they collapsed into each others' arms in tears. "(Now) we need to save and also gets lots of fun ideas from the other gay weddings," they told CNN.

Jacob Coleman, 28, and his husband Damien O'Mara, 29, said they still believed the survey was "wrong." "We didn't want the vote in the first place but we are so happy to have this win for our friends and the whole community," Coleman told CNN.

Coleman and O'Mara were married in Scotland two years ago. The two-month campaign was marred by harsh rhetoric and wild allegations of the consequences of a "yes" vote.

Rainbow flags were sprayed with Nazi symbols in Brisbane while "no" advertisements claimed same-sex marriage would lead to "radical gay sex" education in schools.

IANS