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Administrative Appeals Tribunal confirms Australia's first same-sex marriage
This media release was issued by Australian Marriage Equality on October 3rd, 2007.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) has welcomed a decision on Friday by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal effectively confirming Australia's first legal same-sex marriage.
The decision is enormously significant. It means that for the first time the marriage of two women is recognised under Australian law.
Grace Abrams, a post-operative transgendered woman, was refused a female passport by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade because she had married her partner of five years, Fiona Power, in 2005 prior to undertaking gender reassignment surgery.
After the surgery, Abrams applied to the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to register the change of sex. A female birth certificate was refused solely on the basis that she was married.
When applying for an Australian passport, Abrams was told she could be issued with a passport in the male gender only. She was later informed she could not be issued with a valid passport in the female gender because she could not provide a female birth certificate.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal Deputy President, the Hon R.N.J. Purvis, AM QC ruled that the refusal of a passport by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on the basis that Abrams could not provide an amended birth certificate was unlawful under the Australian Passports Act 2005.
All Australian citizens are entitled to a passport if they can prove their identity and citizenship.
References by lawyers acting for the government to the 2004 amendments to the Marriage Act 1966 were also ruled to be irrelevant.
The decision confirms the patently absurd situation that a same-sex marriage can be recognised in Australia only after one of the parties to that marriage has undergone gender reassignment surgery.
Congratulations to Grace and Fiona!
Grace is especially keen for others in the same situation to now apply for Australian passports (or other offical documents) in their correct gender, in the knowledge that their marriage can no longer be a barrier.
Friday's ruling can be viewed here: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/aat/2007/1816.html
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