Australian MP challenges overseas gay marriage ban

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A South Australian gay MP says he will challenge the country’s ban on gay marriages abroad.

Upper house MP Ian Hunter and his partner of 22 years, artist Leith Semmens, intend to tie the knot in New York, following that state’s legalisation of gay marriage.

However, the federal government is refusing to issue gay couples with Certificates of Non-Impediment to Marriage (CNI), which show they are not already married.

Mr Hunter told AAP: “I don’t want to wait till I’m 75 to get married. It [CNI] has no legislative weight … so I can’t see for the life of me how making those instruments available … will cause any blowback.

“I think that it’s petty and mean spirited.”
Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich, said: “The Gillard government’s policy of not allowing same-sex marriages in Australia forces same-sex couples to go overseas if they want to marry, but when they apply to marry in another country Julia Gillard is there saying ‘no’ as well.

“This means some couples miss out on entitlements and protections they can only receive overseas if they are married in a country that would otherwise recognise their commitment, and it causes endless hassles for couples who have planned their wedding only to find it can’t go ahead.”

The leading Australian Labor Party is to discuss the issue of gay marriage at its conference in December.

However, prime minister Julia Gillard told Sky News last week that she may not respect any motion in favour of equal marriage.

Mr Greenwich said: “Frankly, the 13 million Australians who support marriage equality are getting sick and tired of Ms Gillard telling us that her antiquated personal views on the issue carry more weight than ours.”