While same-sex marriage has finally become legal in Australia over the last couple of days, the notion of same-sex divorce is a less thought of reality. With the rights of gay couples to marry, they also gain the rights to end said marriage and a Perth couple will be the first in Australia to demonstrate this fact.
As gay couples around Australia are rushing to lodge their intent to get married in 2018, Perth lawyers are finalising documentation to realise Australia’s first same-sex divorce.
The couple was married in a European consulate in Perth in 2015 because the laws of that consulate’s country allowed same-sex marriage. However there was a breakdown in the relationship and the two women subsequently separated.
The pair then realised how it would be far more difficult for them to get a same-sex divorce than if they had married heterosexually. Legal experts were then engaged to discover if a same-sex divorce could be possible.
The legal experts noted that because the couple was married under the laws of a European country, they could not access the ability to divorce under those laws because they were not residents.
The lawyers for each party stated that the inability of their clients to officially end the marriage was causing a great deal of angst, feeling as though they could not move forward with their lives.
The representatives pointed out that being unable to tie up a loose end of their lives was a source of great pain for their clients who wanted the same rights’ as heterosexual couples to have a fresh start.
In August this year the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations declared that a gay couples’ inability to get a divorce within Australia was a violation of human rights. These violations were neutralised when Australia legalised same-sex marriage last week.
Now that the couple’s marriage was officially recognised in Australia, they were also eligible to legally divorce. The solicitors for each party commented that this was a noteworthy development as the rights of gay people to divorce each other are just as important as their rights to get married in the first place.
Same-sex marriage celebrants have hoped that the divorce rates for gay couples would be lower than that of heterosexuals. Until the law becomes normalised over several decades they believe that gay couples will take their marriages more seriously because of the battle they have gone through to legalise their unions.