The thousands of Australian same-sex couples who have tied the knot overseas will automatically be recognised as married under Australian law when the same-sex marriage bill comes into effect.
Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s amendment bill, currently before the parliament, will scrap the Marriage Act’s ban on recognition of same-sex unions solemnised overseas.
The Equality Campaign estimates thousands of Australian couples have already wed in the 24 countries to legalise same-sex marriage since 2001.
Those overseas marriages will be automatically recognised in Australia from the date the amendments commence, according to the legislation.
“There’ll be no need to register your overseas marriage or take any steps – the recognition will simply follow the law coming into effect,” The Equality Campaign’s Anna Brown said.
“Regardless of whether you were married in 2007 or you’re planning to get married in 2018, your marriage will be recognised.”
Senator Smith’s same-sex marriage bill passed the Senate largely unchanged last week and it will be debated in the House of Representatives and is expected to pass this week, paving the way for same-sex marriages to start in January.
Almost 1000 Australian same-sex couples have married in New Zealand since their laws changed in 2013, and hundreds of other Australian couples who have dual British citizenship have wed at UK consulates since 2014.
The automatic recognition of the marriages will also remedy a bizarre situation in which some same-sex couples who wed overseas have found themselves unable to get divorced back on home soil.
Queenslander Fiona Campbell wed her partner in Canada but was unable to divorce under Australian law, a situation that drew criticism from the United Nations in August.