Australia to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages in Some Transgender Cases

Male-Female married couples in Australia in which a transgender individual makes a physical gender transition so that the couple becomes a same-sex couple will no longer have their marriages annulled by the Australian government later this year, SX magazine reports:

Australia“From July 1, the Federal Government will legally recognise same-sex marriages in cases where the marriage was originally registered between a male and a female, and one partner subsequently transitions. The change, brought about by the Same Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws) Act 2008, means that after that July 1, there will be legally-recognised same-sex marriages in Australia. Previously, couples in this situation faced ‘state-enforced divorce’ as their marriages were dissolved when one partner transitioned. The change in policy was confirmed by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department in a letter to Kathy Noble, founder and president of Changeling Aspects, a Queensland-based support group for transsexuals. In a letter to Noble dated January 19 this year, Peter Arnaudo from the department wrote: ‘While the reforms do not expressly address the sex or gender diversity of specific individuals, they ensure that … a transgender individual who remains married after surgery will not be deemed to be no longer married, as a result of the reforms.”


  1. GregV says

    Does this mean that transsexuals will be able to have marriage rights as long as they marry either before or after surgery, whichever applies to their situation?
    If so, this is still a step below the rights that heterosexual adults have (to marry at whatever moment is convenient for them). But it gives transsexuals a right denied to gay Australians.
    This is a perfect example of the inverse of what we saw with ENDA, where, when voted on separately, gays had a chance of winning employment rights while there was no chance of either gays or transexuals getting those rights if voted in combination.
    I supported the HRC’s view that equal rights for all should be supported but we should move forward however we can and then keep working for the rest. Likewise, I support this move forward in Australia. It does nothing direct for gay people, but every step toward equal rights for all gets us all closer, and can help people open their eyes to the absurdity of all gender-based discrimination in laws.
    Those who opposed the HRC on ENDA should take a good hard look at this case and think about the implications of the all-or-nothing stance.