A RELATIONSHIPS bill passed in Victorian Parliament enables new regulations allowing a Births, Deaths, and Marriages registrar to recognise international same-sex relationships on death certificates, making it the first jurisdiction in Australia to do so.

The reform follows David Bulmer-Rizzi’s tragic death last month in South Australia, when his husband Marco was not allowed to make medical decisions for his deceased partner and was listed as “not married” on his death certificate.

Equality Minister Martin Foley said the Relationships Amendment Act 2016 would go some way in avoiding a similar tragic situation.

“Now that we’ve got international regulation those tragic circumstances won’t be repeated in Victoria,” he told the Star Observer.

“If Bulmer-Rizzi hadn’t passed away in circumstances like that, his death certificate would not have had that highly inappropriate and insulting reference, it would say they were in a recognised relationship.

“Now we’re in a position to make sure that the Victorian system around death certificates is able to take count of international jurisdiction recognitions and apply it.”

The Relationships Amendment Act 2016 will also allow same-sex couples to hold ceremonies in conjunction with the registering of their relationships in Victoria.

It will enable the Victorian Register of Births, Deaths, and Marriages to provide services to facilitate ceremonies such as the use of the Victorian Marriage Registry where they may take place.

Prahran state Greens MP Sam Hibbins said this was an important step in the push towards marriage equality.

“It’s a modest but important step forward in celebrating same-sex relationships,” he told the Star Observer.

“The main aim is to still get marriage equality on a federal level, but for now at least same-sex couples can have ceremonies in conjunction with the registering of their relationships.”

Hibbins said the key thing now is that the Register of Births, Deaths, and Marriages will inform couples of this option, and make sure it is conducted.

“Overwhelmingly it’s a step for equality, making sure that heterosexual and same-sex relationships are on equal footing,” he said.

“Obviously this doesn’t do that because you need to achieve full marriage equality for that to occur, but to have a ceremony attached really is a modest but important step towards achieving marriage equality.”

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