LESS than a year after Australian Capital Territory’s short-lived same-sex marriage legislation, Norfolk Island is set to be the next territory to pass its own same-sex laws by the end of 2014.
A notice of intention to introduce the legislation was made today, but the Australian self-governing territory is not expected to vote on the matter until next month.
Advocates have also said it’s different to the ACT’s same-sex marriage legislation — which was struck down by the High Court five days after it came into effect in December last year thanks to a Commonwealth Government challenge.
If Norfolk Island’s legislation is passed, same-sex couples from across Australia will be able to travel to the island — which is about halfway between Australia and New Zealand — to marry.
According to AAP, iIt is also estimated the local economy could benefit by up to $12 million a year from the traffic of same-sex couples marrying on the island, just as it has proven to be an economic boost for New Zealand with Australian couples marrying there.
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome, who has been on Norfolk Island advising its parliament’s nine-member assembly, said the federal government should resist exercising its veto power over the laws.
“This bill has been drafted to withstand the constitutional problems that sank last year’s ACT’s Marriage Equality Act and, should it pass, I urge the federal government to let it stand,” he said.
“But if the federal government has outstanding constitutional concerns these should be aired in the High Court.”
Cam Christian, who like many Norfolk Islanders is able to trace his heritage back to Fletcher Christian, who led a mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty more than 200 years ago, also hopes that federal government does not intervene.
“I’m just so proud that Norfolk is leading the way on an issue that matters to so many people,” he told AAP.
“When my partner, Paul, and I got engaged we planned to have a commitment ceremony on the Island, but the chance to be married in front of family and friends is just so important and affirming for us.”
PFLAG Australia also welcomed the news from Norfolk Island.
“We would like to say thank you to Norfolk Island for becoming an inclusive society,” national spokesperson Shelley Argent said in a statement.
“We hope that the Coalition Government led by Tony Abbott doesn’t now try to have this marriage equality legislation over turned by the High Court.
“We need our politicians to stop fearing the noisy minority and do what’s right not what’s easiest.”