SAME-sex couples in NSW who married overseas can now have their marital status recognised under the NSW Relationships Register.
The news comes after Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich won government support to allow this, in response to his Relationships Register Amendment (Recognition of Same-sex and Gender-diverse Relationships) Bill 2014.
It also means they no longer have to declare that they are “not married”.
“This change acknowledges that a growing number of NSW citizens must travel overseas to marry the person they love, while waiting for the Federal Government to legislate for marriage equality,” Greenwich said.
“The inaction of federal governments, past and present, on marriage equality remains an embarrassing blight on our nation’s reputation for fairness, freedom and equality.
“Fortunately the NSW Relationship Register will now ensure these marriages receive a level of protection and recognition in NSW, and I thank the Attorney-General [Brad Hazard] for working with me towards this outcome.”
The eligibility section of the guide for couples will be updated to clarify that same sex couples who marry overseas are eligible to register their relationship.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) and NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) have both welcomed the changes.
“In the absence of federal reform, NSW now provides legal recognition for these overseas marriages and, in doing so, has highlighted the importance of this reform for all Australians,” AME acting director Ivan Hinton said.
“We call on the Federal Government to recognise the commitments that are made by Australians overseas.
“As we legally recognise foreign commercial contracts it should go without saying that we should also recognise these enduring, lifelong commitments.”
NSW GLRL co-convenor Justin Koonin said “this is another important step in acknowledging the depth of same-sex relationships”.
“Same-sex couples who care deeply enough about their relationship to travel overseas to get married ought to have that commitment recognised by the government, and we congratulate both… Alex Greenwich MP, and the government for making these changes happen,” he said.
“We look forward to the passage of full marriage equality laws, for all Australians, as soon as possible.”
NSW was also the first state to provide relationship recognition to same-sex couples in 1999.
The updated Births, Deaths, and Marriages Relationships Register eligibility criteria and application form are available at the links below:
Registered Relationship Form: www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/Forms/60-Rel-Reg-12Nov2014.pdf
Registered Relationship webpage: www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/bdm_mge/bdm_rel.html