Britain helps gay couples marry in Australia despite it being illegal
The British High Commission is helping same-sex couples to marry in Australia, despite it being illegal in the country.
Same-sex weddings remain prohibited under Australian law, as the country continues to debate equality rights.
However, some couples have found a loophole allowing them to marry while in the country.
The marriage is not legally binding in Australia, but it is valid under UK law.
By holding the ceremonies in the consulate, couples are able to have a genuine marriage ceremony with their loved ones while still in Australia.
At one wedding ceremony, filmed by the BBC, the person officiating the wedding says: “As I’m sure you’re aware, this ceremony is taking place under UK law, and it’s the 30th same-sex marriage we have performed in Canberra.”
Newlyweds Ben and Simon, featured in the video, told the BBC: “This is honoured by the Queen goddamit.
“So who is more important to you? The Queen, or your bigotry?”
Another couple, where one had dual citizinship, used the loophole to wed for less than £300.
While embassies abroad are technically considered British soil, the countries in question must also give permission for the weddings to take place.
The largest number of these have been in Australia, where the same-sex marriage debate is a hot topic.
Australia is still the only major English-speaking nation not to allow same-sex marriage anywhere in its borders.
The first same-sex marriage took place at the British Embassy in Seychelles in 2015, causing major controversy, with a bishop calling the wedding “illegal and shameful” and “disrespectful to Seychelles”.
After Australia, China has had the second largest number of same-sex wedding by British embassies.
The Australian government recently considered holding a public vote on marriage equality as the row continues.
LGBT campaigners rejected the proposals, though, which they say would benefit the No campaign.
A political stalemate on equal marriage in Australia has been in place since last year, when a plan for a public vote (plebiscite) on the issue was blocked.
Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull is believed to have made assurances to his Coalition’s anti-LGBT wing during his leadership bid that he would seek a public vote before any legislation on same-sex marriage – and the leader recently shot down calls for a quick vote in Parliament to resolve the issue.
The government is reported to be working on new proposals for a ‘postal ballot’ on the issue.
Unlike election voting in Australia, which is compulsory, participation in the postal ballot would be opt-in, which LGBT activists say appears to benefits the anti-gay marriage lobby by eroding the base of ‘soft’ support for equality.