Lawmakers in the Australian state of
Tasmania have approved a bill that recognizes the marriages and civil
unions of gay and lesbian couples formed outside its borders.
The state's Legislative Council
approved the amendment to the Relationships Act with little
opposition, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
While gay couples cannot legally marry
anywhere in Australia, the move makes Tasmania, a grouping of islands
located about 150 miles south of the Australian mainland, the first
state to recognize the marriages of gay couples celebrated outside
its borders. Elsewhere in the country, the Australian Capital
Territory (ACT) recognizes the unions of gay couples with civil
Members of the House of Assembly
overwhelmingly approved the bill last month.
“This is really a small step, but a
significant and important step for those people who have registered
or been through a civil union process elsewhere around the world and
want us to recognize that relationship as indeed being in existence,”
Tasmanian Attorney General Lara Giddings told ABC News earlier this
A bill that would have legalized gay
marriage in Australia died in the Senate last year.