An interstate same-sex couple have been able to register their relationship in Victoria because they “intend” to live in the southern state, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has ruled.
Nicolas John Taylor, 38, originally from the Australian Capital Territory, and Lee Gavin Wallace, 43, from Queensland, were initally refused registration by the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages because they were not living in Victoria.
According to the Victorian Relationships Act 2008, both people in a couple must be “domiciled” or ordinary residents of Victoria to be eligible to apply.
In his decision, VCAT member Don O’Halloran said the pair proved they had sufficient intention of making Victoria their future long-term home.
“The fact that neither applicant is currently living in Melbourne and the fact that both applicants have spent the bulk of the last 15 years not living in Melbourne are relevant matters, but they are not necessarily decisive matters,” O’Halloran said.
“What is critical is that the applicants were physically present in Victoria when they formed their respective intentions to make their home indefinitely in Victoria.”
Taylor and Wallace own a house in Melbourne. They said work commitments in Sydney keep them from settling in Melbourne, although they had made several attempts to find work there.
Now temporarily living in Paris, the couple provided evidence via phone link-up for the case heard on December 16 2009.
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby convenor Dr Anthony Bendall told Southern Star the situation highlights the hoops same-sex couples have to jump through to gain legal status.
“While the [Lobby] welcomed and worked closely with the Victorian Government on the Relationships Act, it was never considered an entirely suitable solution to relationship recognition for Victorians,” he said.
“Two heterosexual people could be married under the federal Marriage Act without either living together or both living in the same jurisdiction.”
Bendall said despite the defeat of the Greens’ Marriage Bill last week, the Lobby would continue to push for same-sex marriage.
“These amendments are needed both to overcome inconsistencies and anomalies in state laws, but also because until LGBT people have the same rights to choose as heterosexuals, they will effectively be second-class citizens.”