At least one Australian couple has taken advantage of recently legalised gay marriage in Canada.

Canadian-Australian John Richardson and partner Peter Bayfield tied the knot during a trip to Toronto. The couple, who have been together for seven years, told Sydney Star Observer they made a spur-of-the-moment decision to get married at Toronto’s City Hall while in Canada to visit family.

Nothing could stop either of us from smiling. When applying for the marriage licence, there were two men in front of us, and two women after, John said.

While we appeared to be one of the first same-sex couples from Australia, it appeared that American gay and lesbian couples were heading to Canada in droves.

The couple said they were not married for religion or activism, but would use the marriage licence as a record of their relationship if they needed to in the future.

This is the same licence, incidentally, that a heterosexual Australian couple would receive if they were married in Ontario and, when they returned to Australia, it would be recognised by the Family Court here, he said.

The fact that this same licence features two men instead of a man and a woman means the Family Court in Australia won’t recognise it, and that is discrimination.

John said while the same-sex marriage debate was probably not the most pressing issue in current debates about gay and lesbian rights, it should not be dismissed.

Same-sex marriage isn’t something all gay couples are going to go looking for. However, for those couples who are interested, there isn’t the opportunity in Australia, John said. And that’s unfortunate.

Same-sex couples can be legally married in Ontario without Canadian passports.

John and Peter have offered to help any other would-be marrieds thinking of travelling to Toronto. Write to johnaus@hotmail.com for information.

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