Former high court judge Michael Kirby is planning to marry his longtime partner Johan van Vloten next year, on the 50th anniversary of their first meeting.
The esteemed human rights campaigner, who served as a judge the High Court from 1996 to 2009, famously savaged last year’s same-sex marriage postal survey as “unacceptable” and disrespectful and vowed to boycott, before ultimately deciding to vote yes.
Now following the legalisation of same-sex marriage Kirby said he and Johan had decided to marry in a speech to law students at Bond University last week, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Asked by a student which moment of his life he would choose to relive, Kirby responded that it would be meeting his partner in a Sydney gay venue in 1969.
“I met my partner, Johan, in what was then one of the very few gay bars in Sydney – the Rex Hotel,” Kirby said.
“I never went to hotels. I’m not a big drinker.
“But I was like Princess Mary. She went into the Slip Inn in Sydney and picked up the crown prince of Denmark.
“I went into my hotel and picked up my partner, Johan, and we’re still together.
“That was a very memorable encounter.”
Kirby revealed he and Johan were planning to get married on February 11 next year, the 50th anniversary of their first meeting.
“Because of the change in the [Marriage Act] – most unexpectedly – my partner Johan and I had to decide whether to get married,” he said.
“We were not all that enthusiastic. Not because we didn’t support the right of citizens to get married if they wished to, and not to be disqualified if they were LGBT.
“But because we’ve been together now for 49 years and eight months. And so it just seemed a little artificial.
“It seemed a little late for the confetti. And it also seemed to us a little bit patriarchal.”
But with their anniversary approaching, Kirby said they had “ultimately decided” to tie the knot.
“We’ll get married at home. We will never call each other husband,” he said.
“You know, many gay people call each other husband. Our relationship is not like husband and husband.
“Our relationship essentially is one of partner and partner or spouse and spouse.
“We are happy with spouse, we will use that. And then the following night we will go back, on the Tuesday, because we met on a Tuesday, we will go back to what is now the Rex bistro. The Rex hotel has been pulled down, it is now a bistro.
“We will go back and ask for a table. Is that weird? No, I think it’s a bit romantic.”