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Tuesday, 8 February 2005
Page: 172

Senator Brown asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 16 November 2004:

With reference to the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 and in particular to couples where one partner has undergone, or is contemplating, gender reassignment:

(1)   What is the meaning of the terms: (a) ‘man’; and (b) ‘woman’.

(2) (a)   What is the situation of married couples where one partner undergoes a gender reassignment; (b) is their marriage invalidated by the legislation; and (c) what are the consequences for: (i) the couple, (ii) their children (including adopted children), (iii) property, including inheritance, (iv) entitlement to government benefits, (v) citizenship, and (vi) any other circumstance.

(3)   If the law in effect annuls such marriages, how and when will the Government inform couples of this fact.

Senator Ellison (Minister for Justice and Customs) —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   The terms ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are not defined in the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 (the Act). The terms continue to be given their ordinary everyday meaning.

(2) (a)   and (b) It is not appropriate for the Attorney-General to give legal advice. However he considers that the decision of the Full Family Court in Re Kevin establishes that the validity of a marriage is determined at the time it is solemnised, and the definition in the Act does not mean that a marriage will be annulled or made invalid because one of the parties to it undergoes gender re-assignment surgery. (c) Any consequences for benefits or other matters will depend on the particular legal provisions and the individual circumstances in each case and it is not appropriate for the Attorney-General to try to give general answers to the questions asked, as doing so may amount to giving legal advice.

(3)   As the law does not in effect annul marriages there will be no need for the Government to contact couples.