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More Australian gay couples can marry overseas

More Australian gay couples can marry overseas

The Australian Attorney-General has made it easier for same-sex couples to marry abroad, by agreeing to issue certificates that were previously only available to heterosexual couples.

Certificates of No Impediment (CNIs) which prove an Australian citizen is of legal marrying age and not already married, will be available from 1 February for same-sex couples who want to get married in a country that allows it and requires a CNI.

Australia's Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said: 'This important change will allow same-sex couples to take part in overseas marriage ceremonies, and be considered married according to the laws of that country.'

The change in policy was decided on during the 2011 Australian Labor Party National Conference, but same-sex couples who marry overseas are still not legally married in Australia.

Australian Marriage Equality welcomed the removal of the bureaucratic obstacle. National convener Alex Greenwich said: ‘The real problem remains the failure of parliament to allow same-sex marriages in Australia, but the removal of the CNI ban will ease the burden on same-sex couples who are forced overseas to marry.’

Angela Borella, the sister of former Tasmanian premier, David Bartlett, was forced to cancel plans to marry her Portuguese partner in Lisbon when she discovered she could not obtain a CNI. Places that allow same-sex marriage and require CNIs include Portugal, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and New York State.

The announcement comes as more high-profile Australians, Emmy-award-winning actor Guy Pearce and singer-songwriter Jimmy Barnes spoke out in favour of legalising gay marriage. 'It makes me sad and frustrated that we see marriage as the right of some and not others,' said Pearce. 'Nothing will happen to the strength or sanctity of our own marriages if we let same sex couples marry, it will only enhance who we are as people to know we're not being so discriminatory.'

Barnes said: ‘It's time Canberra caught up with the rest of the country and ended this crazy ban that stops some of the most loving and committed couples from getting hitched.’

Couples seeking to marry overseas can find information about applying for a Certificate of No Impediment to marriage at www.smartraveller.gov.au from 1 February.