Australia just became the 26th country to legalise same sex marriage. The legislation passed by both Houses of Parliament shortly before 6pm on Thursday, December 7, 2017.
This is a significant milestone in the history of Australia, backed up by the overwhelming support from the current government as well as the opposition. The move to legalise same sex marriage stemmed from a plebiscite where the overwhelming majority of the public voted in favour of the change, with record participation rates across all States and Territories.
From an immigration perspective, the ability for same sex couples to be married and have their marriage recognised in Australia has a significant impact on their ability to apply for an Australian visa. The Act was given Royal Assent at 9am, Friday 8 December 2017, the result of which enables same sex couples to file a notice of intention to marry and could therefore be legally married as early as 8 January 2018.
Prior to the changes a person in a same sex relationship was required to evidence 6 months of cohabitation in order to apply for a temporary visa and include their partner. The requirement was 12 months for permanent visas. Same sex couples married overseas were also subjected to this defacto requirements, as Australia did not recognise overseas same sex marriages under law.
Effective immediately, same sex couples who are married overseas will now have their marriage recognised by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). They will no longer be required to provide additional evidence of their relationship for temporary or permanent visas. Those applying for a partner visa (same sex or otherwise) will still be required to evidence aspects of their relationship, however, a marriage certificate submitted for same sex couples will be given the same weight by the DIBP as for opposite sex couples.
This is welcome news for many households in Australia, as well as internationally. The outcome of this reform is a result of almost 14 years of active campaigning since 2004, when The Marriage Act defined marriage as a union between a woman and man, which in turn rendered same sex marriage illegal in Australia. Congratulations to many happy couples celebrating this remarkable achievement.
SCA Connect provides free online visa assessments for prospective applicants and we can assist you in navigating through the complex framework that is Australian Immigration. To get in touch with one of our consultants click here.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein is of a general nature only and does not constitute immigration advice. For more detailed and case specific information or advice, please contact SCA Connect.