Same-sex couples who have married overseas will now have those marriages given legal recognition when they return home to the Australian state of Victoria after lawmakers passed the Relationships Amendment Bill.
Same-sex marriage is still not legal in Australia despite overwhelming support from the Australian people so many Australian states have created relationship registers so that same-sex couples can formalize their relationships for legal purposes.
The Relationships Amendment Bill will see overseas civil unions and same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions automatically given the same legal weight as registered relationships.
An amendment to the bill by Greens Party lawmakers also allows Victoria’s state Registrar to conduct a ceremony when a couple register their relationship like a civil marriage.
In doing so Victoria joins the states of New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania in recognizing overseas same-sex marriages – meaning a majority of the Australian states now legally recognize the existence of same-sex marriages in some way.
The reform was welcomed by the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL).
‘The passage of this bill will ensure Victorian couples who have travelled overseas to marry or enter a civil partnership will be legally recognised and protected under Victorian laws,’ VGLRL co-convenor Sean Mulcahy said.
‘These reforms are a great step forward to provide practical legal protections for LGBTI couples. The bill will remove the requirement that both of the couple live together in Victoria for 12 months, which recognises that some couples due to work or family commitments don’t both live in the same location for extended periods of time.
‘The VGLRL has long called for same-sex couples to have the option under law to celebrate their relationship through a legally binding ceremony. We welcome the Government’s commitment to further explore the implementation of this provision, and thank all parties for supporting these reforms.’
The VGLRL are hopeful that Victoria can soon go further and join some other Australian jurisdictions in legalizing civil partnerships for those who don’t want to marry.
‘When marriage equality is achieved in Australia, there will still be couples who may choose not be married for a range of reasons,’ Mulcahy said.
‘We expect the [Victorian Government’s LGBTI] Taskforce [and Justice Working Group] to carefully explore how Victoria may implement and even improve on civil partnership schemes like Queensland, ACT and the UK as a matter of priority,’
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that the Australian people must vote on same-sex marriage in a non-legally binding plebiscite before his government will allow lawmakers to pass the reform.