Victoria will join the states of New South Wales and Tasmania in registering same-sex marriages that are performed in other countries while Australians wait for marriage equality at home.
The state Labor government of Victoria has announced plans to go ahead and recognize same-sex marriages performed overseas while LGBTI Australians continue to wait for the Australian Government to move on the reform.
Under the proposal by the Victorian Government’s Minister for Equality Martin Foley same-sex marriages would be recorded in the state’s relationship register so long as at least one of the people in the relationship is a resident of the state.
The register was created to allow same-sex couples to formalize their relationships for legal purposes in the absence of a formal legal institution for them to do so.
The Victorian Government also announced today that it would ask its newly formed LGBTI Taskforce and Justice Working Group to consider further reforms to strengthen the recognition of same-sex relationships in the state in the current term of Government.
Local LGBTI rights group the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) has been urging lawmakers to create a civil partnership scheme for couples in the state in the absence of a federal same-sex marriage law.
‘Today’s announcement by the Andrews Government will ensure Victorian couples who have travelled overseas to be married or enter a civil partnership will be legally recognized and protected under Victorian laws,’ VGLRL co-convenor Sean Mulcahy said earlier today.
‘While marriage equality remains a federal responsibility, these reforms are a great step forward by the Victorian Government to provide practical legal protections for LGBTI couples. We particularly welcome the removal of 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 see civil partnerships as an important option for those couples who wish to make a formal commitment but do not wish to be married.
‘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 Taskforce 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.’
Australia’s new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has pledged to keep to the policy line of the man he deposed, ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott – which is that same-sex marriage will not be voted on again by the Parliament until a popular vote can be held on the issue and only after the next election is held.
Turnbull had previously been a vocal supporter of passing the reform by a speedy vote by MPs and many believe he agreed to put off any reform as part of a deal with his party’s right wing in order to secure becoming Prime Minister.