Government to enable same-sex couples to marry overseas

From 1 February 2012, same-sex couples will be able to apply to the Australian Government for a certificate that enables them to marry overseas. When a couple wishes to marry overseas, they must usually apply to the Australian Government for a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI). The CNI confirms to the government in the country where the couple plans to get married that the Australian Government see no obstacle to the marriage.

Currently, the Australian Government refuses to issue CNIs to same-sex couples wanting to get married overseas.

“PIAC applauds Attorney-General Nicola Roxon for changing this policy. It is an important milestone towards achieving equality for same-sex couples,’ said Edward Santow, chief executive of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC).

“There is no question that this policy discriminates against same-sex couples, given that a heterosexual couple is generally able to obtain a CNI as of right.’

“Concerns have been raised about the legality of the current discriminatory policy, and PIAC has been working with Australian Marriage Equality on this issue.’

“Our work with Australian Marriage Equality has highlighted that the current policy has very damaging flow-on effects. For example, some same-sex couples have been unable to access entitlements offered by foreign governments in areas like health care and immigration because the Australian Government has obstructed them from getting married overseas,” Mr Santow said.

“By refusing to issue CNIs to same-sex couples wishing to marry in a foreign country, Australia was forcing its own discriminatory approach onto other countries. The Attorney-General’s decision is a step in the right direction.”

Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, said it was an important change that will allow same-sex couples to take part in overseas marriage ceremonies, and be considered married according to the laws of that country.

Primary source: Public Interest Advocacy Centre