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Image for Tony and Manja's little Kiwi wedding

Tony and Manja's little Kiwiwedding

It was in a council chambers in the New Zealand city of Dunedin that Tony and Manja became the Briffas last weekend, striking off two firsts in the one event – marrying in council chambers and also the first wedding of an Australian intersex person across the pond.

“In my vows I became Manja’s ‘husband and wife’, says Tony, who we first came to know Tony Briffa as a local councillor in Melbourne’s Hobsons Bay.

In choosing the venue for the couple’s nuptials, Briffa was drawn to the beauty of NZ’s South Island.

“The quaint cottages reminded me of Edinburgh,” Tony tells Same Same. But the Kiwi setting was also necessary due to the “sad reality” that they cannot wed in Australia.

“John Howard changed the Marriage Act in 2006 so that marriage had to be between a man and woman at the exclusion of all others. He clearly did this to rule out gays and lesbians marrying but it also ruled out people who are not exclusively male or female –that is intersex people – from marrying as well.”

Dunedin is a long way from the Go West program at the Substation at Newport that was part of the Midsumma festival where Manja and Tony first met. Little did they know then that they would be Briffas three years on. “Yes, my easy last name was a bit of the reason,” Tony laughs about Manja being the one to change her surname for married life.

During the service, Tony made an important and touching alteration to the usual marriage vows by promising Manja that he would be the best “husband and wife possible” as Tony’s gender is classed as ‘indeterminate’.

A local family reception is planned for in a few weeks, but the council chambers wedding was an intimate affair with just the two of them and the celebrant. Tony wore a fairly traditional groom’s suit complete with pink trimmings and vibrant rainbow socks, while Manja chose a gorgeous white bridal gown.

They describe their intimate wedding as a “lovely, classy event,” but Tony admits his disappointment about not being able to marry at the council chambers in Hobsons Bay.

Tony heaps praise on the Kiwi laws and the people for their beauty and inclusiveness, and thinking back about Australia, the message is clear.

“All gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and intersex people are in this together and we as a community we must fight as one to remove discrimination from our legislation.”

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Topher

Topher said on the 10th Oct, 2013

Congrats you two! Have a great life together.