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Australian Capital Territory moves to strengthen gay marriage bill

Australian Capital Territory moves to strengthen gay marriage bill

The Australian campaign for the legalization of same-sex marriage has welcomed moves by the ACT Government to strengthen its same-sex marriage legislation after it identified flaws in the bill.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell today announced amendments that will help ensure the Bill has a better chance of surviving a High Court challenge.

Corbell had earlier today rejected claims that the bill was not as strong as it could be in surviving a challenge by the Australian Government but has since backed down and said he will amend the bill.

Australian Marriage Equality deputy director Ivan Hinton welcomed the move.

‘We congratulate the ACT Government for heeding the concerns that have been expressed by some of Australia’s most eminent constitutional law experts,’ Hinton said.

‘We hope the amendments will improve the likelihood this bill will survive the High Court challenge which has already been announced by the Federal Attorney-General.’

Hinton also rejected claims by intersex rights group Organization Intersex International (OII) Australia that the amendments to the bill would exclude some transgender and intersex people from marrying.

‘For the purposes of state and federal law almost all Australians are currently identified as either male or female and, as a consequence, will be able to marry under the federal law or the territory law depending on their circumstances,’ Hinton said.

‘The references to "same-sex" that will be included in the Bill to strengthen it refer to legal gender not sexual orientation. This law is not specific to gay and lesbian Australians.

‘It is unfair on members of the transgender and Intersex communities to feel they are excluded when this is not actually the case. ACT and Federal gender recognition laws should be changed to fully recognize intersex people.

‘It is impossible for a Territory or State marriage bill to bring about this change. This change will require separate legislation and we hope it is forth coming.’

Intersex people who are recognized by the Australian Government as being in opposite gender relationships can already legally marry.

The ACT Government is expected to pass the law as soon as tomorrow.