Same-sex marriage law passed in Australia

Same-sex marriage has been passed into law in Australia.

The new legal definitions and requirements resulting from the law change took effect last Saturday.

Weddings using the new legislation can be celebrated from 9 January 2018.

A commentary about the new laws has been published.

This notes: “The legal definition of marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 has been changed from being a ‘union of a man and a woman’ to a ‘union of two people'”.

A number of other changes to various pieces of legislation and process have been amended to encompass the new laws. Most of these affect civil ceremonies.

The commentary points out if a church or other religious organisation doesn’t want to conduct a same-sex marriage, it doesn’t have to.

Nor does a church or other religious organisation have to rent its community hall or other facilities for a wedding, or to provide any goods or services.

The new law allows for two types of celebrant.

It will include a new class of “religious marriage celebrant” who can refuse to conduct a marriage ceremony if it is contrary to their religious beliefs.

Australian Defence Force chaplains will also be able to refuse to solemnise a marriage.

Celebrants have 90 days to decide whether they want to be registered as a “religious marriage celebrant”.

They must identify this in any advertising.

Only existing celebrants will be allowed to do this.

People who become celebrants after 9 December will be considered a “civil celebrant”.

They will not be allowed to refuse to marry gay couples because they are performing a function on behalf of the state and must uphold Commonwealth law.

Flow-on effects of the new laws mean same-sex couples who married overseas will now be able to have their marital status recognised in Australia.

They will also be able to divorce under Australian law.

The new legislation also affects drivers, florists, bakers and photographers who may not refuse their services to same-sex couples.

This is consistent with anti-discrimination laws, which do not allow refusals of service.

Further investigations to ensure that religious freedom is protected are still underway.

The investigation results are expected by the end of March next year.

Australia’s Catholic hierarchy have not yet made any statements to the media about the new legislation.


News category: World.

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