Gov’t removes barriers for same-sex couples wanting overseas marriage
The Federal Government has lifted the ban on same-sex couples applying for a Certificate of No Impediment to marriage (CNI), allowing couples the freedom to now marry overseas in all jurisdictions that permit same-sex marriage.
Marriage equality advocates have welcomed the changes which will come into effect from February 1.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the Government acted quickly on the issue following a resolution at last December’s ALP National Conference to provide CNIs to same-sex couples, which since 2004 were denied to same-sex couples after the former Howard Government amended the Marriage Act to ban the recognition of same-sex marriages.
“This change means the certificates, which were previously only available to heterosexual couples, will now also be available to same-sex couples,” Roxon said.
“Yet again, this change demonstrates Labor’s strong commitment to removing discrimination in Commonwealth laws and policies.”
Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich, said the removal of the CNI ban would ease the burden on couples who are forced overseas to marry due to the Australian parliament’s “failure” to allow for marriage equality.
“It’s already painful enough for same-sex partners to have to marry overseas, away from family and friends, without the Australian Government putting up additional bureaucratic barriers,” he said.
“We welcome the commitment of Ms Roxon to removing this mean-spirited policy as quickly as possible.”
Greenwich also paid tribute to the many people and groups who had lobbied and spoke out against the same-sex CNI ban, including the Public Interest Advocacy Centre as well as Rainbow Labor.
“But most of all I tip my hat to the couples who were brave enough to go public about being denied CNIs and highlight why this cruel and petty policy had to change,” he added.
The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) also said that it was encouraged by Nicola Roxon’s announcement.
“This will hopefully encourage complementary legislative changes to s88EA of the Marriage Act to allow foreign same-sex marriages to be recognised in Australia,” GLRL co-convener Lainie Arnold said.
“Individuals should be able to marry the partner of their choice, regardless of gender or jurisdiction.”
A number of Australian same-sex partners went public about the CNI ban including, Angela Borella, the sister of former Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett, who late last year was forced to cancel plans to marry her Portuguese partner in Lisbon when she discovered she could not obtain a CNI.
Countries and other jurisdictions that allow same-sex marriage and require CNIs include Portugal, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and New York State, although The Netherlands and New York state waived their CNI requirement when they became aware of the Australian policy.
Same-sex marriages conducted overseas will still not be recognised as a marriage under Australian law but may be evidence of a de facto relationship for the purposes of Commonwealth, State and Territory laws.
Couples seeking to marry overseas can find information about applying for a Certificate of No Impediment to marriage at www.smartraveller.gov.au