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Government defends marriage.

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Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600  Telephone (02) 6277 7300  Fax (02) 6273 4102

27 May 2004 080/2004


Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, has announced that the Government would act to protect the institution of marriage by legislating within the limits of its responsibility, to ensure that same sex relationships cannot be equated with marriage.

“Marriage is a central and fundamental institution in our society,” Mr Ruddock said.

“It is vital to the stability of our society and provides the best environment for the raising of children.

“The Government has decided to take steps to reinforce the fundamental basis of the institution of marriage to reflect these views,” Mr Ruddock said.

Currently, the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 contains no actual definition of marriage.

“The Government believes that the vast majority of Australians would agree that marriage is the union of a man and a woman - to the exclusion of all others - voluntarily entered into for life,” Mr Ruddock said.

“The Government has decided it is time these words should appear in the formal definition of marriage in the Marriage Act and will amend the Act to achieve this result.

“I understand that some Australian same-sex couples are considering travelling overseas to marry under the laws in these countries in the hope that their marriage will then be recognised under Australian law on their return.

“The Government will amend the Marriage Act to make it absolutely clear that Australia will not recognise same-sex marriages entered into under the laws of any other country,” Mr Ruddock said.

In addition, the Government will legislate under the Family Law Act to make it clear that adoptions by same sex couples, of children from overseas under either bi-lateral or multi-lateral arrangements, will not be recognised in Australia.

“The Government is fundamentally opposed to same sex couples adopting children,” Mr Ruddock said.

“In the view of the vast majority of Australians, children have the right, all other things being equal, to have the opportunity to be raised by a mother and a father.


“The Government will, to the extent of its direct area of responsibility under the external affairs power, legislate to prevent adoptions by same sex couples under international arrangements being recognised in Australia.

‘By these actions the Government is making clear its commitment to the institution of marriage,” Mr Ruddock said.

Media Contact: Steve Ingram 0419 278 715

Eds Note: See separate release from Senator Coonan in relation to amendments to superannuation and taxation arrangements for people in interdependent relationships.