22 Oct 2013

Australian jurisdiction legalises same sex marriage

4:45 pm on 22 October 2013

The Australian Capital Territory has become the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise same-sex marriage.

The Labor Government passed its Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill in the Legislative Assembly with the help of a Green member, the ABC reports.

The laws will allow an authorised celebrant to marry gay couples within the ACT, regardless of where they live.

"There is no longer any excuse, if there ever was, to discriminate against same-sex couples in our community," Chief Minister Katy Gallagher told the Assembly.

Amendments were also passed to strengthen the laws against any challenge in the High Court.

It is expected same-sex couples will be able to take advantage of the new laws before Christmas, after they give four weeks notice of their intent to marry.

No minister of religion will be required to solemnise a marriage, nor will any church or place of worship be required to host a ceremony.

Australia's Federal Attorney-General George Brandis has warned the ACT that the laws will be subject to a High Court challenge.

Earlier this month, Senator Brandis said he had received advice the bill was "invalid by reason of inconsistency" with the Commonwealth Marriage Act.