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Same-sex marriage recogntion a step forward

HerCanberra Team

Same-sex couples who have married elsewhere will have their rights and civil unions recognised in Canberra.

New laws passed on Tuesday will now automatically recognise same-sex marriages and other same-sex relationships which have been formally recognised in other jurisdictions.

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) has now amended the Civil Unions Act 2012 to allow for the automatic recognition of same-sex relationships that have been formally recognised in other jurisdictions as civil unions under Territory laws.

The ACT’s Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act passed into law in October 2013 and the first marriages took place on December 7. However on December 12, a unanimous High Court ruling found the ACT’s law was inconsistent with the federal Marriage Act and was no longer valid.

The ACT Government labelled Tuesday’s amendment as a step in the ACT’s journey towards equal rights.

“The amendments to the Civil Unions Act demonstrate this Government’s commitment to building a Canberra that is progressive, inclusive, and people centred,” Mr Ramsay said.

“These amendments allow for overseas or interstate same-sex relationships to be automatically recognised as civil unions under Territory law and are an important step in the Territory’s journey toward equal recognition for all.”

Minister Ramsay noted that a recent example in South Australia highlighted the importance of the legislation.

“In South Australia last year, there was a widely reported case of a couple from the United Kingdom on their honeymoon when one of them died in a tragic accident.   The grieving spouse was told that the death certificate would read ‘never married’.  The South Australian Labor Government responded promptly by introducing legislation to recognise overseas relationships, which passed in December last year.

he amendments passed in the Legislative Assembly today will mean that through automatic recognition, this cannot happen in the ACT.”

Mr Ramsay said the ACT Government had long been a champion for efforts to achieve marriage equality.

“The ACT legislated for marriage equality in 2013, before an intervention from the Federal Government prevented same-sex couples from having their relationship recognised through marriage,” he said.

“Despite this setback, the ACT Government continues to support the recognition of same-sex relationships where possible, and we will continue to advocate for the Federal Government to act on marriage equality.

“No one should be made to feel different or lesser because of who they love and we are committed to ensuring that all Canberrans have the ability to express their love and commitment in the eyes of the law.”

The Act will also automatically recognise the rights of several hundred Canberra dual British citizens who have used the British High Commission as a safe legal haven for a same-sex marriage.

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