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Australian Capital Territory set to become first jurisdiction to allow gay marriage

Australian Capital Territory set to become first jurisdiction to allow gay marriage

The government of the territory that houses Australia’s capital of Canberra has announced it will legislate for same-sex marriage to become the first jurisdiction in Australia to do so.

‘We are proud to be the jurisdiction that others look to as a leader in legislative reforms, particularly in the area of human rights and equality for all,’ Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said yesterday.

‘And we will proudly, once again, be the first government to bring forward legislation that delivers equality for same sex couples – legislation that promises them the right to marry.

‘This is a reform that a growing proportion of Australians want made. It is a matter of time. We would prefer to see the federal parliament legislate for a nationally consistent scheme but in the absence of this, we will act for the people of the ACT.

The ACT Government’s proposed Marriage Equality Bill 2013 will enable couples who are not able to marry under the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 to enter into marriage in the ACT.

‘The government is determined to remove discrimination against same sex couples and their families,’ Gallagher said.

‘With this legislation we will state loud and clear that all people have equal rights in our society and are treated equally by our laws.’

The ACT Government also plan to introduce a Births Deaths and Marriages (Transgender) Amendment Bill 2013, which will create full recognition and equality before the law for transgender Canberrans, and protect their rights to privacy.

The campaign for marriage equality in Australia welcomed the move by the ACT Government.

‘As a long-time Canberra citizen I am proud that my community is moving forward towards full equality for same-sex couples and their families,’ Australian Marriage Equality (AME) deputy national director Ivan Hinton said.

‘The ACT has embraced the opportunity of showing the rest of the country what it means to achieve a truly inclusive community.’

‘Census data released this year shows Canberra as having the highest proportion of same-sex couples in the country which only reinforces the responsibility of the ACT Government to legislate for this significant part of our community.

‘As long as the Federal Parliament fails to act it is important that state and territory governments pursue laws that provide for full and equal recognition and dignity for same-sex relationships.’

Hinton suggested Canberra was likely to reap an interstate tourism windfall after it passed the reform.

‘Marriage equality in New Zealand has highlighted how far Australia is falling behind,’ Hinton said.

‘An ACT marriage equality law will allow Australian couples to marry the person they love in the country they love, instead of traveling overseas.’

The ACT Government stated its interest in passing marriage equality legislation in August last year when the Tasmanian Government announced its plan to pass similar legislation.

The Tasmanian bill failed by two votes in the state Upper House in September last year however supporters have vowed to bring another bill to a vote at the soonest opportunity.