|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
Today's release of census data has shown that over 1338 Australian same-sex couples (nearly 2,700 Australians) have travelled overseas to marry, while 32,377 (nearly 65,000 Australians) are in de facto relationships and prevented from marrying.
Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich, said, "The fact that at least 1338 same-sex couples have gone to the great lengths to marry overseas shows how deeply they value marriage."
"As someone who recently married overseas I understand how painful it is that my solemn vow of lifelong commitment counts for more in a foreign country than it does in the country of which I am a citizen."
"It's important the Census counts people like me because it shows other Australians that this is not an abstract issue - married same-sex partners are here already and actively being denied rights and recognition every day of our lives."
Mr Greenwich cautioned that the Census figures significantly under-estimate the number of same-sex couples who are in overseas marriages.
"Many married same-sex couples would not be aware they are able to indicate if they are married on the Census, given their marriage is not legally recognised in Australia, so I expect the actual number is much greater."
Mr Greenwich said the failure of the Australian Government to recognize overseas same-sex marriages also hurts the friends and family members of same-sex couples married in foreign countries, and is economic damaging for Australia.
"Family and friends may not be able to attend their loved one's wedding for financial or health reasons, and when the couple returns their new relationship with their loved one's spouse is not recognised by the Government."
"The prevalence of same-sex couples travelling overseas also highlights the cost of discrimination to the Australian economy, particularly the small businesses associated with the wedding industry."
"US researchers have estimated the minimum injection of new spending into the Australian economy from same-sex weddings would be $161 million, yet the Australian Government is content to see a significant proportion of this money spent overseas".
It is estimated that most Australian same-sex couples who marry overseas, do so in Canada. Although an increasing number, like Mr Greenwich, marry in places like Argentina that have removed their residency requirement to allow for couples from countries like Australia to wed.
In February the Australian Government removed a ban in place since 2004 which stopped same-sex partners from obtaining the paper work required to marry in some overseas countries.
Foreign same-sex marriages are recognised in over 20 jurisdictions around the world, including countries like Israel and Japan that do not allow same-sex marriages under their own law.
In Australia, overseas same-sex marriages are recognised by a number of companies and government agencies, and are recognised as civil unions in Tasmania and Queensland.
For more information contact Alex Greenwich on 0421 316 335.