Gay couple have Australia’s first legally recognised civil union ceremony

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Warren McGaw and Chris Rumble have become the first Australian gay couple to have their civil partnership ceremony legally recognised.

The pair, who have been together for nearly 20 years, held their ceremony yesterday afternoon at the Old Parliament House rose gardens in Canberra.

They are the first to take advantage of new legislation passed in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) earlier this month.

However, the right may not last for long as prime minister Kevin Rudd has said he will overturn the law.

MacGaw told ABC News: “We thought we’d take this opportunity not only for gay couples Australia-wide … but just for human rights. I think the majority of Australians are behind us.”

But he added: “We’ll be really disappointed and devastated if [the law] gets overturned. But we took the opportunity today to have the legal ceremony as the law stands today. We couldn’t be happier, couldn’t be more delighted.”

The bill, sponsored by the ACT Greens party, was approved by legislators at the beginning of this month after an amendment was inserted banning straight couples from having a civil partnership.

This means the ceremonies will not “mimic” marriage.

Rudd has already overturned similar legislation three times and attorney-general Robert McClelland said this week that the Federal Government would be asking the ACT to amend the new law. He did not state what changes would be made.

Regardless of any changes made, civil union ceremonies performed while the law stands will still be recognised, he added.

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