Poland to speed ahead of Australia on same-sex marriage equality

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

There are signs that Poland, which currently has a ban on same-sex marriage and a poor recent track record on LGBT rights, may finally be on the first step to marriage equality by providing gay men and lesbians with the documentation required to marry overseas.

Poland’s Minister for Equality, Elzbieta Radziszewska, has announced she is seeking to allow authorities to provide same-sex couples with the means they need to marry abroad.

In Australia however, the ban on issuing such documentation remains, despite a positive recommendation from the Senate as far back as 2009.

Speaking to the Australian newspaper Star Observer, the national convener for Australian Marriage Equality (AME) Alex Greenwich said the ban was “mean spirited” and that pro-marriage equality advocates would be fighting it in the courts.

“Despite a positive recommendation from the Senate inquiry, no action has been taken and the situation continues to grow worse as more countries have allowed same-sex couples to marry in the meantime,” Mr Greenwich said.

He also spoke of his disappointment over prime minister Julia Gillard’s failure to address the issue: “This is something that Julia Gillard could give the GLBT community while debate is postponed to the ALP national conference. If she wants to take action she can overturn the current policy on issuing documents and follow that Senate inquiry recommendation.”

The Star Observer also reported that a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told them that Australia’s Marriage Act was the real barrier to providing documentation for same-sex couples.

“It is not DFAT policy, but Australian law, which only permits the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or an Australian Embassy overseas to issue a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage if the proposed marriage is to be recognised as valid under Australian law,” a spokesman told the paper.

“The Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Under the Marriage Act, a same-sex union solemnised in a foreign country is not recognised as a marriage.”

Ms Gillard has herself previously stated her belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Earlier this week, she played down rumours that rebel backbench Labour MPs were keen to support a Green Party bill that would give the Federal Parliament powers to override territory laws, meaning gay marriages could potentially take place in the Australian territories.