The Greens have sought recognition of same-sex rela-tionships registered overseas, a move opposed by Australia’s most prominent lesbian Penny Wong.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young last week proposed to the Senate that the government extend its recognition.
It was suggested that relationships should be recognised if they had either been registered under law in a state or territory, or if registered in a foreign country where, under the local law, the relationship was, at the time when it was registered, recognised as valid.
What we are trying to do is to say that if we are prepared to recognise those relationships in Australia then we should be prepared to recognise those that are registered overseas as well,
Hanson-Young said before receiving objections from fellow senators Barnaby Joyce of the Nationals and the Liberal Party’s George Brandis.
Senator Penny Wong, the openly gay Minister for Climate Change, also raised objections to such an amendment, stating that a foreign registration could still be used as a form of proof of an existing relationship to gain de facto status in Australia.
It is the case that government policy in relation to overseas civil unions does have to have regard to the position of the government and to the requirement in the Marriage Act that marriage in Australia is between a man and a woman, Wong said.
Accordingly, overseas same-sex unions will not be recognised under this legislation as marriages in Australia.
To the 1000-odd Australians who register their relationships overseas, in countries like New Zealand and the UK, official recognition back home is still an issue.
Roger Edmonds and his partner, James Tanner, travelled to New Zealand earlier this year to join in a civil union but will also undertake a relationship declaration ceremony at the City of Sydney today, officiated at by Clover Moore.
We wanted something that was recognised in Australia because the civil union isn’t legal here, so we were really only covered under the de facto status here, Edmonds told Sydney Star Observer.
We want it to be recognised here, that we are in a lifelong relationship with each other.