Recognition of same-sex unions in Australia
|This article is outdated. (September 2012)|
|Legal recognition of
|†Note: Not yet in effect|
In all Australian states and territories, cohabiting same-sex couples are recognised as de facto couples, and have the same rights as cohabiting heterosexual couples under state law. From 1 March 2009 a new section in the Family Law Act 1975 has limited jurisdiction over de facto relationships that have a geographical connection, see sections 90RG,90SD and 90SK with a participating state, section 90RA, of the Family Law Act. See the section on Family Court of Australia for further explanation on jurisdiction.
State registries in Australia 
Same-sex couples also have access to domestic partnership registries in New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria. Civil partnerships are performed in the Australian Capital Territory. On 30 November 2011 the Queensland State Parliament successfully passed the Civil Partnerships Act 2011 which allows for same sex couples who are Queensland residents to enter into a civil partnership. This legislation was changed on 21 June 2012 by the "Civil Partnerships and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012" to change the name to "registered relationship" and to remove access to state ceremonies for those who do register their relationship in this manner.
Referral of power and recognition of married and de facto relationships 
There is an important difference in the source of power of The Commonwealth to legislate over married and de facto relationships. Marriage and ‘matrimonial causes’ are supported by sections 51(xxi) and (xxii) of the Constitution. The legal status of marriage is also internationally recognized whereas the power to legislate for de facto's and their financial matters relies on referrals by states to the Commonwealth in accordance with Section 51(xxxvii) of the Australian Constitution, where it states the law shall extend only to states by whose Parliaments the matter is referred, or which afterward adopt the law.
Legal status consequences outside of Australia 
Thus, same sex or heterosexual, unmarried and also married couples living in The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France for example, have the right to choose their own legal status and respective rights and obligations easily, such as to have no community or to have community of property, as an active opt in system at time of first living together. This is in contrast to the Australian de facto and married regimes where all property is in the pool, unless a couple actively opt out with a binding financial contract drawn up by lawyers and they also have to be resident in Australia to do that.
Same sex marriage in federal law 
Same-sex marriages are not permitted under Australian federal law. In 2004 the Marriage Act 1961 was amended in federal parliament to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman and that any existing same-sex marriage from a foreign country is not to be recognised as a marriage in Australia.
In 2004, amendments to the Superannuation Industry Supervision Act to allow tax free payment of superannuation benefits to be made to the surviving partner on an interdependent relationships that included same sex couples, or a relationship where one person was financially dependent on another person. Further initiatives were also tabled by the Howard Liberal government.
In November 2008 the Australian Parliament passed laws that recognised same-sex couples in federal law, offering them the same rights as unmarried heterosexual couples in areas such as taxation, social security and health, aged care and employment. This means that same-sex couples who can prove they are in a de facto relationship have most of the rights of married couples since 1 July 2009. Nevertheless, despite equality of rights, Australia does not have a national registered partnership or civil union scheme.
In August 2009, a same-sex marriage bill was introduced by a member of the Australian Greens. The bill was reviewed by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The largest protests for same-sex marriage in the nation's history took place in eight cities on 1 August, with an estimated 8,000 people attending. The Committee reported not to vote the bill. On 25 February 2010, the Marriage Equality Bill 2009 did not pass in the Australian Senate by a vote of 45-5, with only the Greens voting in favour and many senators not in attendance. The Greens announced their intention to reintroduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage sometime after 21 August 2010 federal election.
In 2011, the federal Labor Party changed its party platform in support of legalizing same-sex marriage while also allowing its members a conscience vote on the issue. The Liberal/National Coalition remains opposed to any changes to the Marriage Act.
In February 2012 two bills to allow same-sex marriage in Australia were introduced in Parliament. The bills were essentially the same, both lifting the existing ban on same-sex marriages while letting religious ministers refuse to solemnize ceremonies inconsistent with their beliefs. Both bills that would have lifted the current ban have been defeated in both houses as of September 2012.  The Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 involved an on-line survey, which received 276 437 responses, the largest response ever received by a Committee of the House of Representatives. 177 663 respondents were in favour of changing the law to recognise same-sex marriage, 98 164 were opposed to it and 610 were unsure.
De facto recognition prior to 2008 
Prior to 2008, same-sex couples were only recognised by the federal government in very limited circumstances. For example, since the 1990s, same-sex foreign partners of Australian citizens have been able to receive residency permits in Australia known as "interdependency visas".
HREOC inquiry 
Following a national inquiry into financial and work-related discrimination against same-sex relationships, on 21 June 2007, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) released its Same-Sex: Same Entitlements report. The Commission identified 58 Commonwealth law statutes and provisions that explicitly discriminate against same-gender couples by using the term 'member of the opposite sex'.
The previous[when?] federal government, under Prime Minister John Howard, banned its departments from making submissions to the HREOC inquiry regarding financial discrimination experienced by same-sex couples.
A total of 100 statutes and provisions that discriminate by using the term 'member of the opposite sex' were later identified, from Aged Care, Superannuation, Childcare, Medicare (including the PBS), Pensions, etc. "All the basics that opposite-gender couples are legally entitled to and take for granted" .
2007 federal election 
The 2007 federal election provided a swing in power that became more conducive to recognising the LGBT community. Penny Wong (Labor) was the first openly lesbian person to be made a minister. Both the Labor Government and the Liberal party support rights for same-sex couples (excluding marriage and IVF). Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (Labor), Tanya Plibersek (Labor), Penny Wong (Labor), Belinda Neal (Labor), Warren Entsch (Liberal), Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal) and Brendon Nelson (Liberal) "fully support rights for same-sex couples, but not to the extent of same-sex marriage(s) and IVF" (a quote from Brendon Nelson).
Within the first six months following the election, Attorney-General Robert McClelland said that his department had gone beyond the HREOC 58, identifying a total of 100 laws that discriminate against same-sex couples. By April 2008, McClelland announced that legislation to remove these inequalities would be introduced when Parliament resumes in May for the winter sittings.
The 2008 reforms 
Since December 2008, cohabitating ("de facto") same-sex couples have access to the same federal rights that cohabitating opposite-sex couples have. In more than 100 areas of law, "de facto partner" is now defined to include both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The rights extended to same-sex couples include, among others: joint social security and veterans' entitlements, employment entitlements, superannuation, workers' compensation, joint access to the Medicare Safety Net, hospital visitation, immigration, inheritance rights, and the ability to file a joint tax return and gain the same tax rebates as married couples.
The reforms were chiefly adopted through two Acts of Parliament introduced by the Rudd Labor Government: the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Act 2008 which received assent on 4 December 2008 and the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—General Law Reform) Act 2008 which received assent on 9 December 2008.
These "omnibus" pieces of legislation amended a wide variety of existing laws to include same-sex couples. They received support not only from the governing Australian Labor Party, but also from the opposition Liberal Party, the Australian Greens and independent members.
Australia does not outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation at the federal level. However, in response to Australia's obligation to implement the principle of non-discrimination in employment and occupation pursuant to the International Labour Organization Convention No. 111, the Australian Human Rights Commission Act empowers the HRC to investigate complaints of discrimination in employment and occupation on various grounds, including sexual orientation, and to resolve such complaints by conciliation. It is important to note that such discrimination is not rendered unlawful under the Act.
State and Territory recognition 
De facto couples in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria have access to a relationship registry, which enables them to easily prove their relationship and provides nearly all of the rights of marriage. In Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Norfolk Island there is no registration system: cohabitating couples must prove that their relationship exists through a number of criteria. Since 2007 in South Australia cohabitating same-sex couples can register their relationship through a Domestic Partnership Agreement document.
Same-sex de facto couples in all states and territories have the same rights as opposite-sex de facto couples. However, the inability of same-sex couples to have conclusive evidence of their relationships in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island can make it difficult for them to access rights accorded to them under the law. The following list discusses states and territories without registered partnerships for same-sex couples: However, section 118 of The Australian Constitution (The Full Faith and Credit Section) would, in fact, mean that persons registered under the laws of States and Territories with Civil Partnership or Civil Union laws would be able to enforce their rights in juristications without specific enactments.
Norfolk Island 
In 2005 Norfolk Island created the De Facto Relationships Act 2005, providing for domestic partnerships beginning in 2006. The legislation defines the criteria for a court to determine the eligibility of couples to be recognised as de facto couples, and requires an application to the Supreme Court. Circumstances of the relationship, which includes duration of the relationship, financial aspects, and shared responsibilities, are taken into account.
Northern Territory 
In March 2004, the Northern Territory enacted the Law Reform (Gender, Sexuality and De Facto Relationships) Act 2003 to remove legislative discrimination against same sex couples in most areas of territory law. The Act removed distinctions based on a person's gender, sexuality or de facto relationship in approximately 50 Acts and Regulations. As in NSW and the ACT, reform has also included enabling the lesbian partner of a woman to be recognised as the parent of her partner's child across State law.
South Australia 
Since 1 June 2007, 97 sections of legislation took effect which provide superannuation entitlements under four superannuation Acts, as well as rights concerning property ownership, inheritance, financial affairs, hospital access and other entitlements under South Australian law. The legislation does not include three areas of South Australian laws such as adoption and access to IVF and altrustic surrogacy.
This Family Relationships Act 1975 states that "Any two people who live together and present themselves as a couple will be covered by the legislation, regardless of whether or not their relationship is sexual". These Acts included 'domestic partner' in 97 separate Acts called the Statutes Amendment (Domestic Partners) Act 2006 (No 43) and the Statutes Amendment (Equal Superannuation Entitlements for Same Sex Couples) Act 2003 (No 13)
The Statutes Amendment (Domestic Partners) Act 2006 (Number 43), which took effect 1 June 2007, amended 97 Acts, dispensing with the term "de facto" and categorising couples as "domestic partners". This meant same-sex couples and any two people who live together are now covered by the same laws. Same-sex couples may make a written agreement called a Domestic Partnership Agreement about their living arrangements. This may be prepared at any time and is legal from the time it is made, but must meet other requirements, such as joint commitments, before being recognised as domestic partners.
In 2009 the Commonwealth Powers (De Facto Relationships) Act 2009 to allow the referrals of a de facto partners property and superannuation to the Commonwealth as family law under the Family Law Act 1975 (just as all other states have done previously) was assented to on 10.12.2009 - effective from 1.7.2010.
Western Australia 
The Acts Amendment (Lesbian and Gay Law Reform) Act 2002 removed all remaining legislative discrimination toward sexual orientation by adding the new definition of "de facto partner" into 62 Acts, provisions and statutes.
Western Australia allows same-sex couples equal access to adoption procedures and allows lesbian couples equal access to in vitro fertilisation treatment, although gay men continue to be barred from accessing in vitro fertilisation. It also gives same-sex couples the same rights as opposite sex couples in areas such as transfer of property, medical treatment, and inheritance upon the death of a partner. A same-sex couple who utilise artificial insemination or 'in vitro' fertilisation treatment together (i.e. both parties present as a couple throughout the treatment) are able to have both names on the birth certificate once the child is born.
Civil partnerships and registries 
Civil union proposals 
South Australia became the first state to consider allowing civil unions for same-sex couples when MP Mark Brindal proposed the Civil Unions Bill 2004 in October 2004. Brindal said, "Same sex attracted people make invaluable contributions to society, and society can no longer afford the hypocrisy to deny them the right to formalise their relationships."
In 2006, the government of the ACT, led by Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, legislated for same-sex civil unions within the ACT. The legislation was overturned by the federal government with Philip Ruddock saying Stanhope was deliberately baiting them. Ruddock received criticism from the Greens party, but claimed that the ACT's policy was not for civil unions but for marriage which was defined in the Marriage Amendment Act 2004.
In March 2006, independent Victorian MP Andrew Olexander proposed a private member's bill to allow civil partnerships in the state, but the state government would not allow it to be drafted by the parliamentary counsel.
In Australia, civil celebrants conduct commitment ceremonies so that same-sex couples can participate in a ceremony to acknowledge their love and partnership. The federal government however has introduced a registration system whereby prospective celebrants must undergo Government-approved training and meet specific criteria set by the Attorney-General's Department to be declared a "fit and proper person" to hold the office of marriage celebrant. Under the new rules a registered celebrant is not permitted to conduct legally binding commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples, although they may conduct non-legally binding ceremonies as long as both the couple and those attending are under no illusion that the ceremony is a legal marriage.
National relationships register 
In December 2007, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stated that the Government would be working on a national relationship register, similar to the one in Tasmania, which would officially record an existing same-sex relationship. Since then, the policy expressed by federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland has been to encourage all states and territories to create their own state-based relationship registers, based on Tasmania's model, while the federal government amends Commonwealth legislation to recognise these registered relationships. Neither Rudd nor the Labor Party endorsed the more controversial step of approving same-sex marriage or civil unions, however the party's state branches in Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland have endorsed same-sex marriage. Two same-sex marriage bills are currently[when?] pending in federal parliament. If these federal bills fail to pass then bills proposed to create same-sex marriage in the states of Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales will be submitted to their state legislatures. Also proposed is a civil partnership expansion bill in ACT and in Western Australia there is a promise of either civil partnerships or same-sex marriage if the federal bills both fail.
Australian Capital Territory 
Since 1994 the ACT has had the Domestic Relationships Act 1994 becoming the first jurisdiction in Australia to "acknowledge same-gender couples legally". This provided for distribution of property and finances in the event of a separation, and inheritance in the event of death. On 16 August 2003, The ACT enacted laws relating to same-sex adoption.
9 years later 6 extra acts came into force that was passed by the Stanhope Government to abolish all discrimination against LGBT individual people, their partners and even their children in every piece of ACT law and statutes.
The ACT was the first Australian jurisdiction to pass legislation for civil unions with its Civil Unions Act 2006 which was enacted on 9 June 2006, but it was disallowed by the Governor-General on 13 June on the instruction of the Federal Executive Council. That December, the ACT government proceeded with new legislation recognising same-sex unions based on the United Kingdom civil partnership laws, but that was blocked as well. In December 2007, a third attempt was made when the newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that he would not override ACT legislation allowing for civil unions because it was a matter for states and territories. However on 17 February 2008 Attorney General Robert McClelland said it was unacceptable that the ACT proposal would allow public ceremonies for same-sex couples to celebrate their unions.
In May 2008, after several attempts to amend the Civil Partnerships Bill, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell announced the Territory had again been forced to abandoned its civil partnerships legislation and would instead settle for a system of relationship registers virtually identical to the ones operating in Tasmania and Victoria.
The Civil Partnerships Amendment Bill 2009 was presented to the ACT Legislative Assembly by the ACT Greens on 26 August 2009, allowing ceremonies to be conducted with civil partnerships, which was the contentious item removed from the previous year's legislation. Labor initially accused the Greens of playing politics by resurrecting the issue, but unanimously backed the bill as a matter of principle as it is ACT Labor Party policy to support civil unions. The Federal Labor government has agreed not to overturn the bill. The first ceremony was held on 25 November 2009, despite criticism from the Australian Christian Lobby. Then again the ACT government made a plan with the Commonwealth government not to veto the civil partnership legislation if the ACT government made more amendments and changes to the legislation and then introduced the Civil Partnerships Amendment Bill 2009 (No 2) to address the Commonwealth Governments concerns.
New South Wales 
The State of New South Wales state-wide relationship registry has been legally provided since 1 July 2010. The City of Sydney established a Relationships Declaration Program in 2005 available for all couples offering limited legal recognition and is still active. While making a relationship declaration does not confer legal rights in the way marriage does, it may be used to demonstrate the existence of a de facto relationship within the meaning of the NSW Property (Relationships) Act 1984 and other legislation.  The Law Reform Commission of New South Wales began an inquiry into Relationships and the Law several years earlier in September 1999. The Commission's report, which was not released until 2006, recommended an optional state-wide registry for same-sex couples, which was rejected by the Government.
On 4 June 2008, the New South Wales Parliament passed the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Same Sex Relationships) Bill 2008 which recognises co-mothers as legal parents of children born through donor insemination, provides birth certificates allowing two mothers to be recognised, creates amendments to 57 pieces of state legislation to ensure de facto couples, including same-sex couples, are treated equally with married couples, and creates amendments to the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act to ensure same-sex couples are protected from discrimination on the basis of their "marital or domestic status" in employment, accommodation and access to other goods and services.
In February 2010, New South Wales Attorney General John Hatzistergos announced that the state government will introduce legislation for a state-wide relationships register modelled on ones already in place in the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania. Entering into a "registered relationship" provides conclusive proof of the existence of the relationship, thereby gaining all of the rights afforded to de facto couples under state and federal law without having to prove any further factual evidence of the relationship. In this way, a registered relationship is similar to a registered partnership or civil union in other parts of the world.
The Relationships Register Bill 2010 was introduced to the NSW Legislative Assembly on 23 April 2010. The bill was approved by the NSW Legislative Assembly on a 62–9 vote on 11 May 2010, and then by the NSW Legislative Council (upper house) on a 32–5 vote on 12 May. It was signed into law by the governor and entered into force on 1 July 2010.
Beginning 1 January 2004, Tasmania's Relationships Act 2003 allowed same-sex couples to register their union as a type of domestic partnership in two distinct categories, Significant Relationships and Caring Relationships, with the state's Registry of Births, Death and Marriages. The new definition of partner or spouse, "two people in a relationship whether or not it's sexual", was embedded into 80 pieces of legislation, giving same-sex couples rights in making decisions about a partner's health, provides for guardianship when a partner is incapacitated, and gives same-sex couples equal access to a partner's public sector pensions. It also allows one member of a same-sex couple to adopt the biological child of their partner.
In June 2008, Greens' Nick McKim released advice showing that there is no constitutional barrier to Tasmania introducing same-sex marriage laws, and said he intends to submit a bill to allow same-sex marriage in the state.
In September 2010, the Tasmanian parliament unanimously passed the legislation to recognise same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions as registered partnerships under the Relationships Act 2003, making it the first Australian state or territory to do so.
In August 2012 Tasmanian premier Lara Giddings announced that Tasmania would pass new laws allowing same-sex couples to marry. The Tasmanian Solicitor General advised Premier Giddings that, because the 2004 federal Marriage Amendment Bill restricted the federal Marriage Act 1961 to the union of a woman and man, marriage between same-sex couples would fall outside of the Federal marriage Act and could be legislated by the state. Although the same-sex marriage bill passed 13-11 in the lower house, the Legislative Council rejected the bill 6-8 on September 27, 2012.
In August 2001, the Statute Law Amendment (Relationships) Act 2001 and the Statute Law Further Amendment (Relationships) Act 2001 amended 60 Acts in Victoria to give same-sex couples, called domestic partners, some rights equal to those enjoyed by de facto couples, including hospital access, medical decision making, superannuation, inheritance rights, property tax, landlord/tenancy rights, mental health treatment, and victims of crime procedures.
In April 2007, the City of Melbourne established a Relationships Declaration Program (like Sydney's from 2005). The following month, the City of Yarra launched its Relationship Declaration Program. Under the program two people may declare that they are partners and have this declaration recorded in the Yarra City Council Relationship Declaration Register.
Both local registries have since been superseded by the state's Domestic Partnership Register which was launched in December 2008. Both city registers remain active.
In December 2002, Queensland's Discrimination Law Amendment Act 2002 created a new, non-discriminatory definition of "de facto partner", affecting 42 pieces of legislation. This gave same-sex couples the same rights as de facto couples in most instances.
Amendments to Queensland's Property Law Amendment Act recognise same-sex partners in regard to the distribution of property in the event of a separation. Queensland allows couples in same-sex relationships who are victims of relationship violence to take out domestic violence orders against a violent partner, and other protective measures, including counselling services. Queensland's Industrial Relations Act 1999 includes same-sex partners in the definition of spouse. This gives same-sex partners access to state-based parental, family, bereavement and carer's leave provisions.
On 25 October 2011, Queensland Deputy Premier, Andrew Fraser, introduced the Civil Partnerships bill 2011 into the Queensland Legislative Assembly. The bill had passed the Legislative Assembly on 30 November by a vote of 47 to 40, with those against including 4 from the Australian Labor Party. The Civil Partnerships Act 2011 allows for same-sex couples who are Queensland residents to enter into a civil partnership. After the bill had successfully passed Labor Premier Anna Bligh stated that "This bill is fundamentally about the human rights of Queensland’s citizens, but it is much more than that. It is about the joyful business of love and that is why it has touched the hearts of so many Australians, why so many people believe that Australia should be dealing with this issue." The Liberal National Party of Queensland had unanimously opposed the bill and stated that civil partnerships are not a priority in the minds of Queenslanders.
Shortly after the change of government in the 2012 state elections, the LNP passed the "Civil Partnerships and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012". This bill was intended to seek a compromise between those seeking to maintain the rights granted by the Civil Partnerships Bill and the Australian Christian Lobby and members of the LNP who were deeply opposed to it. The new bill changed the name from "civil union" to "registered relationship" and prohibited the state from offering ceremonies for those who do register their relationship in this manner.
Same-sex marriage 
The Marriage Amendment Bill 2004 
On 27 May 2004 the then federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock introduced the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004, intending to incorporate the common law definition of marriage into the Marriage Act 1961 and the Family Law Act. In June 2004, the bill passed the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the amendment by 38 votes to 6 on 13 August 2004. The bill subsequently received royal assent, becoming the Marriage Amendment Act 2004.
The amendment specifies the following:
Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.
Under section 46 of the Marriage Act, a celebrant or minister is required to say these words, or words to this effect, in every marriage ceremony.
The Labor shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon on the same day the amendment was proposed said that the Labor Opposition would not oppose the amendment, arguing that it did not affect the legal situation of same-sex relationships, merely putting into statute law what was already common law. The Family First senator supported the bill. The bill was also supported by the Nationals.
Despite having support of the major parties the bill was contested by sections of the community, human rights groups and some minor political parties. The Australian Greens opposed the bill, calling it the "Marriage Discrimination Act". The Australian Democrats also opposed the bill. Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett stated that the legislation devalues his marriage, and Greens Senator Bob Brown referred to John Howard and the legislation as "hateful". Brown was asked to retract his statements, but refused. Bob Brown also quoted as Australia having a "straight Australia policy".
Not all of Labor was in support of the bill. During the bill's second reading, Anthony Albanese, Labor MP for Grayndler said, "what has caused offence is why the government has rushed in this legislation in what is possibly the last fortnight of parliamentary sittings. This bill is a result of 30 bigoted backbenchers who want to press buttons out there in the community."
Same-Sex Marriages Bill 2006 
In June 2006, Senator Stott Despoja introduced into Federal Parliament the Same-Sex Marriages Bill 2006, a private member's bill. The bill aimed to reverse the changes that were made in the Marriage Amendment Act 2004. It would have provided equal status, recognition, treatment and eliminated all legislative discrimination between same-sex and heterosexual couples. The bill has stalled indefinitely, but remains on the Parliament's current bills list.
Same-Sex Marriage Bill 2008 (Tasmania) 
Greens MP Nick McKim introduced the Same-Sex Marriage Bill 2008 into Tasmania's House of Assembly in July 2008. McKim introduced a similar bill to the House in April 2005. Neither bill has progressed to a Second Reading.
Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009 
In June 2009 Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009 to legislate for marriage rights for same-sex couples. It would amend the Marriage Act 1961 to remove all discriminatory references based on sexuality and gender identity and allow marriage regardless of sex, sexuality and gender. The inquiry reported negatively by 26 November. A "National Year of Action for Equal Marriage Rights" started a few days later, on 28 November by mass demonstrations. On 25 February 2010 the bill was rejected by the Senate. Previously in 2007, former Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, introduced a similar bill, the Marriage (Relationships Equality) Amendment Bill 2007.
2011 conscience vote 
Public opinion polls 
In June 2004, a survey conducted by Newspoll showed that 38% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, with 44% opposed and 18% undecided.
- 57% of respondents supported same-sex marriage with 37% opposed and 6% undecided.
- 71% of respondents supported same-sex couples having the same legal entitlements as opposite-sex de facto couples.
- 60% of respondents supported the recognition of same-sex marriage, with 36% opposed and 4% undecided. Support was highest amongst those respondents who were intending to vote for the Australian Greens (82%) and who were aged 16–24 (74%). The majority of respondents from each state and each age bracket (except for the 50 and above category with 45% of respondents) were in support.
- 58% of respondents supported the recognition of foreign same-sex marriages in Australia, with 36% opposed and 5% undecided. Support was highest amongst those respondents who were intending to vote for the Australian Greens (74%) and who were aged 16–24 (73%). The majority of respondents from each state and each age bracket (except for the 50 and over category with 43% of respondents) were in support.
- 62% of respondents supported the recognition of same-sex marriage, with 33% opposed and 5% undecided. Support was highest amongst respondents who were intending to vote for the Australian Greens (81%), and who were aged 18–24 (80%). The majority of respondents from each state and each age bracket (except for the 50 and over category with 46% of respondents) were in support.
- 78% of respondents supported a conscience vote on the recognition of same-sex marriage, with 16% opposed and 6% undecided. Support was highest amongst those respondents aged 18–24 (84%), and who lived in South Australia (83%). The majority of respondents from each state and each age bracket were in support.
- 68% of Australians support same-sex marriage
- 78% classify marriage as a ‘necessary’ institution, with only 22% opposing
In a late November 2011 Galaxy poll of over 1000 voters, 80 percent wanted Tony Abbott to allow the Liberal/National Coalition to participate in Labor's same-sex marriage conscience vote, and that 76 percent of Coalition voters wanted a same-sex marriage conscience vote.
In a February 2012 online poll of 1506 Australian adult members on the Nine Rewards website by Angus Reid Public Opinion, 49 percent of Australians said same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry, 31 percent said they should be allowed to form civil unions, but not marry, and 14 percent said they should not have any kind of legal recognition. (The margin of error was +/- 2.5%.). No attempt was made to make the survey representative of the entire population, and the Nine Rewards website is associated with the Nine Network, an Australian television channel popular with older and more conservative viewers.
In early 2012 the House of Representatives conducted an online survey to provide a simple means for the public to voice their views on same-sex marriage and two bills which sought to legalise it, the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012. The survey closed on April 20, having received approximately 276,000 responses, including about 213,500 comments. Of these responses, it was reported that 64.3% supported same-sex marriage, or approximately 177,600 people. The report acknowledged that "The online survey was not a statistically valid, random poll. Respondents were self-selected, in that they chose to participate if they wished." 
Federal parliamentarians who publicly support same-sex marriage 
House of Representatives 
The Australian House of Representatives contains 150 seats. On 19 September 2012, a bill introduced by Labor MP Stephen Jones aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage was defeated 42 to 98 votes. Labor MPs were allowed a conscience vote while Liberal Party Leader Tony Abbott did not allow a free vote for Liberal Party MPs.
MPs who voted to legalize same-sex marriage:
|Mark Butler||Labor||Port Adelaide||SA|
|Peter Garrett||Labor||Kingsford Smith||NSW|
|Laura Smyth||Labor||La Trobe||VIC|
The following Representatives have made statements of support for same-sex marriage but voted against legalization or did not vote:
|Richard Di Natale||Greens||VIC|
The following Senators have made statements of support for same-sex marriage but voted against legalization or did not vote:
Recognition of married transgender people 
In October 2007, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal overturned a decision by the Foreign Affairs Department refusing to issue a transgender woman a passport listing her as female because she is married to a woman. The tribunal ordered that she be issued a passport listing her as female, in accordance with her other official documents, thereby recognising the existence of a marriage between two persons who are legally recognised as female.
See also 
- "Civil Partnerships Bill 2011". Queensland Parliament. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- "Civil Partnerships and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012". Queensland Parliament. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- "CMarriage Act 1961". Attorney-General’s Department, Canberra. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- Australian Parliament website
- Sweeping gay law reform finally passes Archived 20 March 2009 at WebCite
- Rees told listen and legalise gay marriage
- Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009
- 8000 Come Out For Gay Marriage
- Senate votes down same-sex marriage bill
- Senate rejects gay marriage bill, additional text.
- "Parliament votes down same-sex marriage bill", Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Sept 2012, retrieved 20 Sept 2012
- Rod McGuirk (13 February 2012), "Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage", Associated Press Australian Broadcasting Corporation, retrieved 15 February 2012
- "Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012". House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- HREOC Same-sex same entitlements Report
- Human Rights and Equal Opportunity (HREOC Australia) report, Same-sex Entitlements Discussion Paper II (2006)
- "How well does Australian democracy serve sexual and gender minorities?", Democratic audit of Australia, ANU School of Social Science report No. 9, 2003 p. 19 
- Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission: Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Report, 21 June 2007
- "Latest News".
- Ruddy Good News - What The Election Results Mean For Us on SameSame.com.au
- "Latest News".
- Karvelas, Patricia (12 October 2007). "Turnbull gets in ring for gay rights fight". The Australian.
- Feds find 100 laws to fix
- Matching Rights for Gay Couples
- Your Rights Checklist, Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby
- Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Act 2008
- Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—General Law Reform) Act 2008
- Norfolk Island Homepage (see De Facto Relationships Act 2005)
- LAW REFORM (GENDER, SEXUALITY AND DE FACTO RELATIONSHIPS) ACT 2003 Archived 21 December 2009 at WebCite
- South Australian Legislation
- STATUTES AMENDMENT (EQUAL SUPERANNUATION ENTITLEMENTS FOR SAME SEX COUPLES) ACT 2003 (NO 13 OF 2003)
- STATUTES AMENDMENT (DOMESTIC PARTNERS) ACT 2006 (NO 43 OF 2006)
- Legal Services Commission of South Australia
- South Australia gays get new rights - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News Archived 21 December 2009 at WebCite
- Gay News From 365Gay.com
- GayWired.com - Southern Australia Approves Domestic Partners Legislation; Gay Rights Advocates Celebrate
- "STATUTES AMENDMENT (DOMESTIC PARTNERS) ACT 2006 (NO 43 OF 2006)". South Australian Numbered Acts. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
- "Statutes Amendment (Domestic Partners) Act 2006". Government of South Australian Attorney-General's Department. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
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- Australian trans passport victory- from Pink News- all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News