Tasmania’s gay and lesbian community has welcomed the passing of state legislation which now sees the state able to recognise overseas same-sex marriages and civil partnerships.

Last week the Tasmanian Upper House passed an amendment to the state’s Relationships Act which will now allow couples from overseas and interstate to be automatically recognised as partners in a Tasmanian Deed of Relationship.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome said the change will provide same-sex couples with greater legal security if moving to Tasmania.

“Couples in interstate and overseas unions should not have to re-register their relationship in order to secure the legal rights and protections most other couples take for granted,” Croome said.

“It is important for Tasmanian law to respect the official, legal commitment partners make to each other, regardless of what state or country that commitment was made in.”

The change makes Tasmania the first Australian state to recognise overseas same-sex marriages in state law.

“What matters here is not what an officially-recognised relationship is called, but the love and commitment it signifies, and the legal protection it deserves,” Croome said.

The federal Government has so far staunchly opposed recognising same-sex marriages entered into overseas.

Before the August election the Gillard Government also opposed loosening restrictions around issuing required documentation — Certificates of Non-Impediment (CNIs) — required for Australians to marry same-sex partners abroad.

CNIs are required by some countries to ensure a person is not already married in his/her home country.

Tasmania’s change came as University of NSW professor of law and constitutional expert George Williams stirred up debate last week, saying states have the power to enact same-sex marriage laws.

In 2003, Tasmania was the first Australian state to establish a same-sex relationship scheme.

Both the Tasmanian and Victorian branches of the Labor Party have endorsed same-sex marriage at recent state conferences.

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