There have been rightful celebrations at Australia’s progress, but it does not join the UK when our nation lags far behind other countries with our unequal marriage laws.
Australia has been hailed in the last few weeks for its progress on same sex marriage. It was long overdue, and the Australian GRSD community had to go through the painful process of listening to debates about what rights they deserved. However, tweets, memes and Facebook posts have gone viral celebrating Australia as joining other nations – the UK included – for having equal marriage. The reality is that the law in the UK is still far from equal.
There are several issues with the UK law. Our Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act is incredibly convoluted and the whole process was arduous and yet resulted in a shambles. It got the good headlines about delivering progress but the loopholes within the law set GRSD people clearly apart from allocishet people.
“The reality is that the law in the UK is far from equal”
One of the main problems is the presence of the trans spousal veto. This amendment effectively hands the right to autonomy from trans people to cis people. Now when a trans person seeks legal recognition, they must obtain the consent of their cis partner. Trans people should be able to seek legal recognition and transition regardless of whether cis people consent.
The Church of England also is exempt from the legislation, meaning that same gender couples are effectively barred from seeking a service that they should be entitled to. It also results in pro-GRSD clergy from being able to offer to host weddings. It’s a ridiculous law, and we cannot claim to have equal marriage when not everyone has equal access.
Furthermore, consummation is also absent from the law. This is an improvement – albeit a one brought about by ignorance. MPs simply didn’t know how to define people of the same gender having sex. Yet, any compulsion to have sex to recognise a marriage should be abolished. It’s ridiculous that any legislation should try to compel people to have sex, and it’s also incredible acephobic. It’s not just our same-sex marriage legislation that needs change, but our marriage laws overall. Australia isn’t joining our league of GRSD progress in terms of marriage rights; it’s jumped ahead of us.