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Australia breaching human rights by not allowing same-sex divorce says UN

Meka Beresford August 6, 2017
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Australia is breaching human rights by not allowing same-sex divorces, the United Nations has ruled.

The UN Human Rights Committee ruled that by not permitting divorces between same-sex couples who wed in a different country, they were breaching obligations.

Currently, the legislature does not recognise ceremonies performed outside of the country despite not permitting same-sex marriages.

This means that the country does not recognise marriages, and thus divorce proceedings are near on impossible to complete in the country, a factor that is costing Australian over $500 million.

The issue stems from section 88EA of the Marriage Act 1961 which states that “Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between” (a) a man and another man, or a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

Many people reported facing immense difficulty if seeking out a divorce.

The ruling comes after Fiona Kumari, a woman from Queensland, took a case to the UN in 2012 because Australian law was preventing her from divorcing her partner who she legally married in Canada.

The UN said that the actions of the Australian authorities of differentiating based on sexual orientation constituted as discrimination.

In a statement, the board called for “full reparation” to be made to those who had been discriminated against so far.

The statement read: “This requires it to make full reparation to individuals whose covenant rights have been violated.

“Accordingly, the state party is obligated to provide the author with full reparation for the discrimination suffered through the lack of access to divorce proceedings.”

The ruling has been celebrated by LGBT activists, however, they have stressed that it should mean same-sex marriage should be legalised.

Rodney Croome, a spokesperson for Just Equal said that it now meant Australia had an “obligation” to marriage equality.

They said: “At the heart of this decision is that Australia has an obligation, an international obligation to treat same-sex couples equally before the law and particularly to give them equal protection of the law.”

A spokesperson for the Attorney General said that the report was being “carefully considered”.

Related topics: Australia, Australia, divorce, human rights, LGBT, UN

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