Over a thousand Australian same-sex couples to travel to New Zealand to wed

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According to a survey by an equal marriage advocacy group, over a thousand Australian gay and lesbian couples are to travel to New Zealand in order to get married, now that equal marriage is set to become law there.

Gay rights campaigners in Australia have praised New Zealand after it became the 13th country to legalise equal marriage.

The survey, run by Australian Marriage equality, since late last week, asked gay couples if they would travel to the neighbouring country to marry, when it becomes legal there, said national director Rodney Croome.

“We expect there to be a flood of couples flying across the Tasman to marry in New Zealand. These are couples who would prefer to marry in their own country, but they are sick and tired of waiting for our own government to catch up.”

Efforts to legalise the measure failed in the Australian Parliament last year.

The pro-equal marriage group made an estimation using Australian census data and average wedding spending that the Australian economy has missed out on NZ$850 millon (£472 million) every three years by not introducing same-sex marriage.

Croome suggested that Tourism New Zealand should cash in on the opportunity to draw gay couples from Australia to marry, and went on to say that the Australian economy is missing out on the opportunity to make money.

He went on to say that, despite the fact that New Zealand marriages would not be fully recognised in Australia, they would be classed as civil unions in Tasmania and New South Wales, and that it would be a “game changer”, because “Australia won’t be able to ignore it any more.”

Justin Watson of Tourism NZ said the board had no current intention of specifically targeting gay and lesbian couples, but that any couple seeking a “romantic” wedding destination should choose New Zealand.

“We welcome all travellers who choose New Zealand for their wedding destination, honeymoon or just a romantic getaway, but have no plans to target the gay and lesbian community specifically.”

As the Parliament of New Zealand passed a bill to allow equal marriage in the country, those in attendance of the reading broke into song, once it was announced that it had passed.

The speaker of the house announce the results of the reading, which saw 70 votes for and 44 against, before cheers from the crowd.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, responded to the news from New Zealand, by saying that she won’t be dropping her opposition to marriage equality.

Along with Julia Gillard, Australia’s opposition leader Tony Abbott continues to oppose equal marriage and refuses to allow his MPs a conscience vote.

A new study has estimated that, if legalised, equal marriage could bring a 3-year $42 million (£27 million) boosts to the US state of Minnesota. 

Ministers speaking in support of equal marriage claimed in January that it could give the British economy a boost of as much as £18 million per year.