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Marriage Amendment Bill 2012

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2011- 2012

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Marriage Amendment Bill 2012

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of

Stephen Jones



 

Marriage Amendment Bill 2012

 

OUTLINE

 

The Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 amends the Marriage Act 1961 to establish marriage equality for same-sex couples principally by amending the definition of marriage in section 5(1) of that Act.

 

The Bill also inserts a new subsection into section 47(a) to specify that a minister of religion, a person authorised under a State or Territory law, or a marriage celebrant is not under an obligation to solemnise a marriage where the parties are of the same sex.

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The bill will have no financial impact.

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Schedule 1 - Amendment of the Marriage Act 1961

 

1.     Item 1 of Schedule 1 repeals the definition of marriage that is in subsection 5(1) of the Marriage Act 1961 , and substitutes that definition with a new definition:

 

marriage means the union of two people, regardless of their sex, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

 

2.     Item 2 of Schedule 1 makes an amendment to section 46 of the Marriage Act 1961 in regard to the words used by authorised celebrants to explain the nature of marriage relationship.

 

In subsection (1), the words “a man and a woman” are to be replaced with the words “two people”, to remove the gender-specific reference of the marriage parties.

 

3.     Item 3 of Schedule 1 inserts a new subsection into section 47(a) of the Marriage Act 1961 . This section provides that an authorised celebrant, being a minister of religion is not bound to solemnise any marriage. The new subsection (aa), is inserted to avoid any doubt in regard to the operation of this section specifically in regard to same-sex marriages.

 

The new subsection is as follows:

 

                        [Nothing in this Part]

                        …

(aa) imposes an obligation on an authorised celebrant, being a minister of religion, to solemnise a marriage where the parties to the marriage are of the same sex; or

 

4.     Item 4 of Schedule 1 repeals section 88EA which currently provides that a union solemnised in a foreign country between same-sex couples must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia. It is inconsistent with the other provisions of the Bill.

 

5.     Item 5 of Schedule 1 amends Part III of the Schedule to the Marriage Act 1961 to replace the words “a husband and wife” in table item 1 with the words “two people”.

 

 

 

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Marriage Amendment Bill 2012

 

This bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Overview of the bill

 

This Bill will amend the Marriage Act 1961 to ensure all adult couples, irrespective of sex and who have a mutual commitment to a shared life, have equal access to marriage.

 

Human rights implications

 

This Bill seeks to end discrimination against same-sex couples who wish to have their relationships recognised by the State by amending the definition of marriage that is currently in section 6 of the Marriage Act 1961 .

 

At the same time, this Bill protects religious freedom.

 

This Bill will permit a minister of religion, a person authorised under a state or territory law or a marriage celebrant authorised under the Marriage Act 1961 to perform a marriage between same-sex couples and will permit that marriage to be recognised in Australian law.

 

In addition, proposed amendments to section 47 of the Act will reinforce the existing provisions that ensure that a minister of religion is under no obligation to solemnise a marriage where the parties to that marriage are of the same sex.

 

Conclusion

 

This bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 because it ends an existing discrimination against same-sex couples who wish to have their relationships recognised by the Australian Government.

 

 

Stephen Jones

Member for Throsby