Canada has moved to close a loophole in its marriage laws which effectively left foreign same-sex couples who’ve married in Canada in legal limbo.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the Government will amend the Civil Marriage Act so same-sex marriages between non-Canadians will be recognised as valid even if the unions are not recognised in a couple’s home country.
“I want to make it very clear that, in our Government’s view, these marriages should be valid,” Nicholson said on January 13.
Nicholson blamed the situation on a legislative gap left when the law was changed in 2005.
Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Rodney Croome said the Canadian Government’s statement would be a relief to gay and lesbian Australians who’ve married in Canada.
“An overseas same-sex marriage is not just symbolic — it confers a legal status that is recognised by an increasing number of Australian employers, federal departments and state governments,” Croome said.
“To throw that legal status into doubt is to throw lives in turmoil.
“This episode highlights why same-sex couples should be able to marry in Australia rather than being forced to marry overseas.”
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005, causing thousands of international gay and lesbian couples to travel to the country to marry.
Last week, however, it emerged the Department of Justice was arguing same-sex marriages between non-Canadians were not valid.
The argument was used in response to a case before the country’s courts in which a US woman and a UK woman had filed for divorce after marrying in Canada in 2005.
Canada’s divorce laws also don’t allow people who haven’t lived in Canada for at least 12 months to end their marriage.
It’s understood the Government will now amend its laws to remove the residency requirement for overseas couples who want to divorce and to affirm the validity of marriages between non-Canadian residents.