A Qantas employee who had a gay marriage under Canadian law has had the ceremony recognised in Australia.

In a year long dispute, the Australian airline initially refused to update his marital status in March 2005 citing Australian law which only recognises gay marriage as between a man and a woman.

The company backed down this week after the former Chief Justice of the Family Court, Alastair Nicholson, stepped in, he said: “There is nothing to stop a private employer permitting your husband to be described as your spouse on its documentation and I can see no legal impediment to it doing so.”

“Indeed it would, in my view, be an appropriate step for it to take.”

Qantas executive general manager, Kevin Brown, responded to the employee, “Qantas is willing to recognise you … as married and will record your status as married. Qantas will treat you and your family in the same manner as it treats all married staff.”

Australian Marriage Equality national secretary Glenn Limond told the Australian Daily Telegraph it was worth noting, “Qantas is not only a very large employer, with over 30,000 staff, but is also an Australian icon.”