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Marriage equality in Australia

On 9 December 2017, the right to marry in Australia was no longer determined by sex or gender.

In 2017, Australians voted in favour of marriage equality via a postal survey.

On 9 December 2017, the Marriage Act 1961 was updated to allow for marriage equality. The Act defines marriage as 'the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life'.

Other rules to get married in Australia did not change.

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Religious marriage celebrants

After the Marriage Act changed, existing Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants could choose to be a religious marriage celebrant.

A religious marriage celebrant can choose to marry people in line with their religious beliefs.

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After 9 March 2018, only ministers of religion of non-recognised denominations can apply to identify as a religious marriage celebrant.

Sections 47 and 47A of the Act detail the protections of:

  • ministers of religion
  • religious marriage celebrants

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Changes to marriage forms and ceremonies

All marriage forms were updated to be appropriate for all marrying couples.

The parts of a marriage ceremony that changed to recognise marriage equality are:

  • marriage vows
  • marriage statement made by the celebrant

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Changes to how we recognise overseas same-sex marriages

Since 9 December 2017, same-sex marriages that took place overseas are generally recognised in Australia.

If we recognise your marriage, you can’t get married again in Australia.

But you may choose to hold another type of ceremony, such as:

  • confirmation of vows
  • recommitment ceremony

Family law and same-sex divorce in Australia and overseas

From 9 December 2017, same-sex married couples are treated the same as other married couples in Australia. It does not matter whether the marriage happened:

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Contact details

Marriage Law and Celebrants Section
1800 550 343
Outside Australia: +61 2 6141 3111
3-5 National Circuit BARTON ACT 2600