New South Wales has become the third Australian state to recognize gay couples who have married abroad in places where same-sex unions are legal.
Alex Greenwich, independent member for Sydney, today announced the government has supported the Relationships Register Amendment (Recognition of Same-sex and Gender-diverse Relationships) Bill 2014, which he introduced in August.
‘Under the changes, same sex couples who marry overseas will be able to reflect their marital status on relevant forms and will no longer have to declare that they are not married,’ he said in a statement.
The amendment brings NSW into line with Queensland and Tasmania, which have already passed similar legislation.
Greenwich married his husband Victor in Argentina in 2012 and was the first member of any parliament in Australia in a same-sex marriage.
‘This change acknowledges that a growing number of NSW citizens must travel overseas to marry the person they love, while waiting for the federal government to legislate for marriage equality,’ he said.
According to the 2011 census, 1,300 same-sex couples have married abroad and data from New Zealand shows that hundreds more gay Australians intend to marry there.
The federal government banned gay marriage 10 years ago and the senate recommended parliament does not pass a nationwide bill to recognize overseas same-sex unions in September.
‘The inaction of federal governments, past and present, on marriage equality remains an embarrassing blight on our nation’s reputation for fairness, freedom and equality,’ Greenwich said.
‘Fortunately the NSW Relationship Register will now ensure these marriages receive a level of protection and recognition in NSW, and I thank the attorney-general for working with me towards this outcome.’
Marriage equality advocates have welcomed changes.
‘In the absence of federal reform, NSW now provides legal recognition for these overseas marriages and, in doing so, has highlighted the importance of this reform for all Australians,’ said Ivan Hinton-Teoh, acting director of Australian Marriage Equality, in a statement.
‘We call on the federal government to recognise the commitments that are made by Australians overseas. As we legally recognise foreign commercial contracts, it should go without saying that we should also recognise these enduring lifelong commitments.’