Same-sex unions formally recognised in ACT

Released 14/02/2017

Same-sex marriages and other same-sex relationships with formal recognition in other jurisdictions will now be automatically recognised in the ACT as civil unions under new laws passed today.

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) amended the Civil Unions Act 2012 to allow for the automatic recognition of same-sex relationships that have been formally recognised in other jurisdictions as civil unions under Territory laws.

“The amendments to the Civil Unions Act demonstrate this Government’s commitment to building a Canberra that is progressive, inclusive, and people centred,” Mr Ramsay said.

“These amendments allow for overseas or interstate same-sex relationships to be automatically recognised as civil unions under Territory law and are an important step in the Territory’s journey toward equal recognition for all.” Minister Ramsay noted that a recent example in South Australia highlighted the importance of the legislation.  

“In South Australia last year, there was a widely reported case of a couple from the United Kingdom on their honeymoon when one of them died in a tragic accident.   The grieving spouse was told that the death certificate would read ‘never married.’  The South Australian Labor Government responded promptly by introducing legislation to recognise overseas relationships, which passed in December last year.  

The amendments passed in the Legislative Assembly today will mean that through automatic recognition, this cannot happen in the ACT.”

Mr Ramsay said the ACT Government had long been a champion for efforts to achieve marriage equality.

“The ACT legislated for marriage equality in 2013, before an intervention from the Federal Government prevented same-sex couples from having their relationship recognised through marriage,” he said.

“Despite this setback, the ACT Government continues to support the recognition of same-sex relationships where possible, and we will continue to advocate for the Federal Government to act on marriage equality.

“No one should be made to feel different or lesser because of who they love and we are committed to ensuring that all Canberrans have the ability to express their love and commitment in the eyes of the law.”

In order to be recognised under the Civil Unions Act 2012, the relationship must:

  • be between two adults;
  • have been entered into consensually;
  • not be a prohibited relationship as defined by section 7 of the Act;
  • have not been entered into by a person already married; and
  • have not been entered into by a person already in a relationship recognised under the law of another jurisdiction.

- Statement ends -

Section: Gordon Ramsay, MLA | Media Releases

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