Same-sex marriage legalized in New Zealand

People watch the final reading on Parliament TV at the Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret as New Zealand MP's vote in favor of the gay marriage bill at Parliament House, April 17, 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand. Getty

WELLINGTON, New Zealand Hundreds of jubilant gay-rights advocates celebrated at New Zealand's Parliament as the country become the thirteenth in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.

Lawmakers voted 77 to 44 Wednesday night in favor of the gay-marriage bill.

People watching from the public gallery immediately broke into song after the result was announced, singing a New Zealand anthem in the indigenous Maori language.

Leaders of most political parties encouraged lawmakers to vote as their consciences dictated rather than along party lines.

Same-sex marriage is currently recognized in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark. Lawmakers in Uruguay approved a law last week that President Jose Mujica is expected to sign.

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