Australian gay and lesbian couples will have access to Certificates of Non-Impediment (CNIs) to wed overseas in early 2012.

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland made the announcement this week following a resolution at the Labor Party’s National Conference to end Australia’s ban on same-sex couples obtaining the documentation to marry in countries where same-sex marriage is legal.

CNIs are required by some countries to prove those entering a marriage are not already married in Australia and were given to opposite-sex couples, but not same-sex couples.

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) campaign director Rodney Croome welcomed the change and said it will make a real difference to the lives of same-sex couples.

“Many gay and lesbian Australians travel overseas to marry because they can’t marry here, but when they discover the Australian Government won’t give them the required paperwork, weddings plans have to be cancelled and the partners concerned continue to experience the legal and social disadvantages of not being able to marry,” he said.

“Obviously, it would be better if Australian same-sex couples could marry in their own country rather than being forced overseas to marry. But for those who do marry in other countries, the new policy will make a real difference.”

The LGBTI community has fought for many years to have the ban overturned.

Recently Angela Borella, the sister of former Tasmanian Labor premier David Bartlett, spoke out against the CNI ban as she was denied documentation to marry her Portuguese same-sex partner in Portugal where gay marriage is legal.

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McClelland said the change would not mean same-sex marriages were recognised in Australia, however, would count as evidence of a de facto relationship and for the purposes of a civil union under some state and territory laws.

Discussions are now taking place between the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to make the change.

“The Government will work to be able to issue these certificates to same-sex couples in early 2012,” McClelland said. 


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