HRC Blog

Australian Capital Territory Passes Marriage Equality Same-Sex Act

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Parliament passed a marriage equality bill by just one vote on Tuesday, making it the first jurisdiction in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.

Under the Marriage Equality Same-Sex Act, same-sex couples across Australia will be able to marry inside of the Australian Capital Territory by the end of the year. 

The bill's title was changed in the final hour from the Marriage Equality Act to the Marriage Equality Same-Sex Act, and in turn excludes individuals who do not identity as either male or female. However, transgender individuals will be able to marry under the Territory law if they cannot marry under the federal Marriage Act, according to Human Rights Law Center Director Anna Brown and Australian Marriage Equality National Director Rodney Croome.

“The advice we have received confirms that, under current gender recognition laws, no transgender or intersex person will be excluded from marrying under the amendments we want to see to the ACT law,” Croome told the HRLC.

However, the national government is expected to challenge the law in the High Court.

 A majority of Australians – 52 percent – support same-sex marriage, according to Australia’s ABC.

Same-sex couples living in the ACT have been allowed to register their partnerships since 2008 and hold civil partnership ceremonies since 2009.

Fifteen countries now have marriage equality nationwide (Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, and New Zealand) with one other country – Great Britain – nearly there after Queen Elizabeth gave her royal assent to marriage equality legislation approved by both houses of Parliament.

In the U.S., one-third of the population lives in a state with marriage equality.

In the U.S., one-third of the population lives in a state with marriage equality.

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