The Labor Government is stopping Australian same-sex couples from marrying overseas as well as at home.
Last week the Gillard Government informed marriage equality advocates that it has decided not to remove the ban, in place since at least 2005, on issuing Australians in same-sex relationships with the documents they need to marry overseas, called Certificates of Non-Impediment to Marriage or CNIs.
Last year’s Senate inquiry into marriage equality recommended lifting the CNI ban, even though it did not support allowing same-sex marriages in Australia.
Local marriage equality activists say they are deeply disappointed by the Labor Party’s failure to abide by the Senate inquiry recommendation, and would support a legal challenge to the ban.
“As if it’s not bad enough that the Government’s ban on same-sex marriages forces hundreds of Australians to marry overseas every year, often at great expense and without their families and friends present, the Government still wants to reach around the world in an effort to stop these Australians marrying,” says Australian Marriage Equality National Convener Alex Greenwich.
“We are seeking legal advice about challenging the mean-spirited ban on CNIs for same-sex partners in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.”
Some countries which allow same-sex couples to marry also require foreign nationals to provide a Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage from their government to show they are not already married.
Since at least 2005 the Australian Government has refused to issue CNIs to same-sex couples marrying overseas on the basis that their marriage will not be recognised in Australia. However, it is widely understood that this is not what CNIs are for.
Gillard won’t front up
Also last week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard (pictured) turned down a request from marriage equality advocates, sent to her after she declared her personal opposition to the issue, to explain why allowing same-sex couples to marry is good for the couples, good for marriage and good for Australia.
“Clearly, the Labor leadership wants to look tough in its opposition to marriage equality, but it can’t hide the fact that its stance doesn’t have popular support and is opposed by an increasing number of Labor candidates including Cath Bowtell in Melbourne, Steven Hurd in Melbourne Ports and Steven Lewis in Wentworth,” says Greenwich.