Same-sex couples in NSW started registering their relationships yesterday.
NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos told Southern Star this week gay and lesbian couples could register their relationship with Births, Deaths and Marriages.
“Persons will be required to sign a statutory declaration to be able to effect the registration, and that will then lead to a formal process which will include evidence of identity, age, eligibility and so forth being provided to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages,” Hatzisgeros said.
“The parties must be in a committed exclusive relationship — they mustn’t be married or in another relationship that’s registered or registerable. They need to be over the age of 18 years and one person is required to be a resident of NSW.”
Couples can obtain the required forms from the Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages or download them from their website.
Once all documentation has been accepted, there is a 28-day cooling-off period during which either partner can cancel the process. A registration fee of $144 — the same as that charged married couples — applies.
Couples can request the revocation of their registered status, but if only one partner wishes to do so there is a 90-day cooling-off period before the status is revoked. Couples revoking their registered status will be charged a fee of $72.
Recognition is revoked automatically if a partner dies or marries.
The NSW Government is also working to ensure that relationships registered under its scheme will be recognised under the ACT’s civil unions scheme, and under the state registry schemes operating in Victoria and Tasmania.
“We’re working with those jurisdictions to ensure that there’s recognition of arrangements under our law and that they recognise our provisions under their laws and also with the Commonwealth,” Hatzistergos said.
He said he believed the Commonwealth was drafting legislation which would allow that to occur.
The NSW scheme already has provisions recognising relationships registered in other states and territories for the purpose of NSW law.
However, people who are registered in civil unions or civil partnerships outside Australia are not covered and will have to re-register with a state or territory registry scheme to retain their status in Australia.
info: The NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages website is www.bdm.nsw.gov.au