Gay couples in the Australian state of Tasmania will soon be able to have an official ceremony in which to register their relationships.

Currently, couples can have a Deed of Relationship, which is the Tasmanian form of a civil partnership. However, they can only hold informal ceremonies.

The change, from November 1st, means that they will be able to sign their Deed of Relationship in a ceremony presided over by a marriage celebrant and in front of their friends and families.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome welcomed the initiative, saying: “This provides same-sex and other couples with a way to have that ‘special day’, on which they officially declare and affirm their relationship in front of friends and family members.

“Tasmania led the nation with the establishment of our registry of personal relationships, and now it is leading with official ceremonial recognition of these relationships.”

He added: “Tasmania’s Relationships Act is a sound body of law based on equity and fairness, but until now that body has lacked a heart.”

Those who have a Deed of Relationship have virtually the same rights as married couples in both state and federal law and are also recognised as civil partners in countries such as the UK.

Since the scheme began in 2004, 145 couples have registered their relationships.

Although the new ceremonies come into law on November 1st, they will not be available until a month later, due to a 28-day period in which applications for Deeds of Relationship are processed.