UK same-sex marriage brings legal issues for Aussie civil partners
With the UK recently granting same-sex marriage rights, Aussie couples have been lining up to wed at the British Consulate. Unfortunately, it’s not been all wedded bliss, with several couples denied a marriage licence after it was discovered they already had a civil partnership.
All Australian civil partnerships have been recognised under Britain's Civil Partnership Act as the equivalent of UK civil partnerships. In the UK you can’t be married and have a civil partnership simultaneously.
Now Aussie same-sex couples wishing to marry at the consulate will need to decide between the protections that a civil partnership at home offers versus the respect and recognition of a traditional marriage.
Australian state civil partnerships offer concrete legal benefits in both state and federal law. However, eligible couples who have a relationship registered under state law must terminate this partnership before being able to finally marry under UK law. This can jeopardise legal protections enjoyed by the couple or their family in Australia.
These include access to spousal entitlements regardless of cohabitation, access to some parenting rights, and being able to prove spousal entitlements if challenged, say, in a medical emergency or in immigration.
Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome Croome described the situation as unfair and said, couples now faced a stark choice.
"The best way to ensure couples no longer face this unfair choice, and to remove the absurdity of overlapping and conflicting laws, is to allow all same-sex couples to marry under Australian law,” Croome said.