UK one step closer to marriage equality
UK One Step Closer To Marriage Equality

With the UK one step closer to passing a bill for marriage equality, is Australia falling behind?

The UK is on the brink of delivering marriage equality for its many same sex citizens with the House of Commons voting 400-175 for a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.

While the bill is not necessarily a fete accompli, with further debates and a vote in the House of Lords before it will become law, marriage equality pundits suggest that given the strong approval rate for the bill in the House of Commons it is likely to be passed. If approved the law will take effect from 2013, finally giving UK same sex couples the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts – with access to both civic and religious ceremonies. Couples currently in civil partnerships will also have the opportunity to convert their partnership to a marriage.

Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Rodney Croome, said, “The majority of Australians who support marriage equality will be pleased to see such resounding support from a country with which we share so much, but this will be tinged with embarrassment that Australia is falling further behind and may soon be the only developed, English-speaking country without marriage equality.”

“The fact David Cameron has allowed a conscience vote increases pressure on Tony Abbott to do the same, especially given that a conscience vote is about personal freedom and marriage equality is about strengthening families – both principles which conservatives should support.”

“The UK vote also highlights how, by continuing to oppose marriage equality, our Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is not only out-of-step with her centre-left colleagues overseas, but even her conservative counterparts.”

“We call on both Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard to show leadership and stop holding Australia back.”

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will now be considered in detail by the House of Commons before being sent to the Lords.

Mr Croome said when the law is finally passed he expects many Australians will either travel to Britain to marry or marry in UK consulates in Australia.

“Given the many British nationals who live in Australia we are likely to see a rush a couples to marry under the new legislation, including those couples who are already in UK civil partnerships and will be able to convert these to marriages. It is sad that these couples will not have their marriages recognized under the law of the country they live in.”