The Australian Senate has recommended parliament does not pass a bill to recognize gay couples who married in places where same-sex unions are legal.
The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee released a report on the bill today.
Some submitters expressed concern that the bill was ‘a surreptitious attempt to introduce marriage equality.’
The Law Council of Australia was concerned that the bill would create a discriminatory situation where only couples with the financial resources to travel overseas would have access to gay marriage.
Other issues raised included religious freedom and whether the bill represented a ‘slippery slope’ to allowing the recognition of polygamous or child marriage.
Rodney Croome, national director of Australian Marriage Equality, said the comittee had completely ignored the personal stories of Australian gay couples.
He said, ‘The Senate report is a slap in the face to the hundreds of loving, committed Australian couples who have married overseas.
‘This one-sided report highlights why it is important for Coalition members to be allowed a free vote on marriage equality and are no longer tied to automatically opposing it.’
Sydney resident, Shirleene Robinson, who will marry her fiance, Sarah Midgley in the Sydney UK consulate tomorrow, said, ‘It is deeply disappointing that Australians can expect greater respect and recognition from foreign governments than from our own.
‘We would love to have our solemn vows recognised under Australian law, but we are determined not to let this Senate report ruin our special day.’
In the 2011 census more than 1,300 gay couples said they had married overseas. Since then about 240 Australian gay couples have married in New Zealand and many more plan to marry in UK consulates in Australia.
Croome said, ‘I don’t understand how anyone who says they respect the institution of marriage can turn around and support the invalidation of existing legal marriages.’
Israel, Japan, Italy, Malta and the Netherlands Antilles do not allow gay marriage domestically but do recognise foreign same-sex unions.