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1st Australian Gay Couple Marries at British Consulate

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Jun 27, 2014
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Peter Fraser and Gordon Stevenson
Peter Fraser and Gordon Stevenson  (Source:Facebook / Australian Marriage Equality)

The first same-sex couple legally tied the knot in Australia Friday at the British consulate in Sydney, but their homeland’s government still won’t recognize their marriage, Gay Star News reports.

It was reported earlier this month that same-sex marriages can take place in the British consulates of 23 countries, including nations where gay marriage isn’t legal, including Russia, Serbia, Hungary and Azerbaijan, after the U.K.’s Foreign Office ruled it was OK.

As long as one person from the couple is a citizen of the U.K., they can marry. Australia’s first same-sex marriage took place around 3 p.m. at the British consulate near Sydney’s Circular Quay.

Peter Fraser from Scotland, and Gordon Stevenson married wearing matching kilts after being together for 19 years. The couple was declared married by the British Consular General, who said performing the marriage was one of the his best moments of his posting to Australia.

"I take Gordon to be my lawfully wedded husband," Fraser, 43, said as his voice cracked.

’’Far from trying to break the tradition of marriage, we’re actually just trying to join the tradition,’’ Stevenson, 61, told the Sydney Morning Herald. ’’No longer should we have to say, ’Peter’s my partner’ or ’he’s my friend’ - I can say he’s my husband, and everyone knows what that means.’’

Unfortunately, their marriage will not be recognized by Australia even though they will received marriage rights in the U.K.

"The majority of Australians who support marriage equality will be asking, if this can happen in a U.K. consulate then why not everywhere else in Australia?" Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome told GSN. "Today’s ceremony is a reminder to Coalition MPs that the issue is not going away and the sky doesn’t fall in when same-sex couples marry."

Fraser told the Herald that getting married is important because "it’s a way to celebrate your love and your partnership, in front of your family and friends, and have that recognized by them, by your community and ultimately by the state that you live in.’’ He called his marriage situation "bittersweet" since Australia won’t recognize his marriage.

GSN reports a Senate committee is currently looking at a measure that would recognize same-sex marriage performed in other countries where gay marriage is legal.

Hong Kong’s government initially refused to let same-sex couples marry at the British consulates but it was later revealed it was up to the consulate officials to decide, not the city’s government.

"We will be making further inquiries with the HKSAR government regarding the potential for the consulate-general to solemnize same-sex marriages for British nationals in Hong Kong as a matter of priority," a spokeswoman for the British consulate said.

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