Australia government challenges day-old same-sex marriage law

[JURIST] Australia's Commonwealth government, led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, filed suit on Wednesday challenging the validity of the Marriage Equality Bill [materials] passed on Tuesday by the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly [official website], legalizing same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. In a writ of summons filed with the country's High Court, the challenge claims that the new laws are inconsistent [SMH report] with Australia's Commonwealth Marriage Act and the Family Law Act. In response to the filing, Federal Attorney General George Brandis remarked on the level of distress [Bloomberg report] a challenge would cause to same-sex couples who would be married in the territory only to discover that their marriage was held invalid. The commonwealth government has requested a hearing to be scheduled for November 25.

In February an Australian judge ruled [JURIST report] that the nation's ban on same-sex marriage does not amount to gender discrimination, dismissing a challenge to the law. The ruling upholds the decision of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) [official website] to terminate the complaint of sex discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 on the grounds that it was "misconceived and/or lacking in substance." In contrast, lawmakers in both France and the UK [JURIST reports] approved bills that would legalize same-sex marriage earlier in February. Likewise, advocates in the US continue to check off victories across the country as 14 states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage, with New Jersey [JURIST report] being the most recent addition on Monday.

 

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