Australian High Court overturns gay marriage law

Australia’s High Court has overturned gay marriage legislation which briefly allowed same-sex ceremonies to take place in the Australian Capital Territory.

The small territory – which is self-governing – passed its Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 in October this year.

The courts struck down the newly passed law with a unanimous ruling, finding it to be inconsistent with federal law.

Uniformity

The Australian Christian Lobby welcomed the High Court’s decision. Managing Director, Lyle Shelton said: “This ruling shows it is not the jurisdiction of states to legislate in regards to marriage.”

“It’s important for marriage laws to continue to be administered federally – this is why the Marriage Act was passed in 1961 to have uniform laws”.

The Australian High Court said it “held that the federal Parliament has power under the Australian Constitution to legislate with respect to same sex marriage”.

Defeat

The ruling will affect some 27 couples that were married after the law was enacted in November.

Australian Marriage Equality’s national director Rodney Croome, described the ruling as a “temporary defeat”.

The federal Marriage Act revised in 2004, specifies that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.

Debate

“The debate about changing the definition of marriage has been given a fair go for the past three years with nine parliamentary attempts to change it”, Shelton said.

“Like the republican debate, the public and parliamentarians have had plenty of time to evaluate it and it is now time to move on,” he added.

Croatia moved to ban gay marriage after a referendum where two-thirds of voters supported the definition of marriage as a union between man and woman.

In England and Wales, the coalition government have fast tracked gay marriage to allow same-sex weddings to take place from March.

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