SA Labor MP Ian Hunter weds in Spain
South Australian Labor MP Ian Hunter has married his partner Leith Semmens in a ceremony in Spain.
It is believed Hunter is the first MP anywhere in Australia to marry their same-sex partner while a sitting member of Parliament.
The pair, who have been together for two decades, tied the knot in a small and intimate ceremony at the Pabellon de Las Artes arts venue in the town of Jun near the southern city of Granada.
The wedding party comprised of seventeen family members and friends who had travelled from Australia to Spain to witness the nuptials between SA’s Social Inclusion Minister and his 42-year-old artist partner.
Spain has allowed for same-sex marriages since 2005 but it is still rare for two foreigners to get married to each other in the country.
Jun’s Mayor Jose Antonio Rodriguez Salas, who helped Hunter and Semmens file paperwork necessary to marry in Spain, said he had carried out many marriage ceremonies over the past few years but this was the first he was aware of that involved an overseas couple.
52-year-old Hunter said his marriage was not about politics but about cementing their 20 year relationship in front of their loved ones.
“We’re not getting married because of any political campaign,” he said. “We’re getting married to express our love for each other, as our friends can do back home.”
The MP did admit however that he was aware that his ceremony would more than likely have an effect on the debate continuing back home.
“There’s a very broad base of views in Australia about gay marriage. The Australian citizenship supports it overwhelmingly, about 60 per cent, and a very large number of MPs, but not enough yet,” he told reporters.
“Spain is leading the world by its changes to its laws and Australia is still having the debate and I could have stayed in Adelaide, Australia and waited for the changes but I didn't want to. I wanted to come to Spain and get married now.”
Hunter becomes the second Australian politician to enter into a same-sex marriage after Independent MP and former Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich, who had married in Argentina earlier this year was elected into NSW Parliament in October.
Apart from Spain, same-sex marriages are legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Argentina, ten US states and some Mexican and Brazilian states.
The likes of New Zealand, France, Uruguay and Britain are also expected to legislate for same-sex marriage laws in coming months.