Inquiry into the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2004

Inquiry into the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2004

On 23 June 2004, the Senate referred the above Bill to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 7 October 2004.

Due to the prorogation of the 40 th Parliament and the dissolution of the House of Representatives on 31 August 2004, the Committee has determined not to continue its inquiry. All hearings have been cancelled. If the Bill is reintroduced in the new Parliament, the Senate can again refer it to the Committee for inquiry.

The Bill seeks to:

  • amend the Marriage Act 1961 to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life; and to confirm that unions solemnised overseas between same sex couples will not be recognised as marriages in Australia; and
  • amend the Family Law Act 1975 to prevent intercountry adoptions by same sex couples under multilateral or bilateral agreements or arrangements.

In examining the Bill, the Committee has been directed to consider:

  1. the legal interpretation of the marriage power in the Constitution, and the extent of this power with regard to the creation of marriage law and the recognition of foreign marriages;

  2. whether the Bill raises international comity issues, or inconsistency with laws, policies and standards of domestic and overseas jurisdictions;

  3. whether the Bill breaches international instruments including the Hague Convention and human rights mechanisms prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation;

  4. whether the Treaties relied upon in Schedule [2] of the Bill provide the Commonwealth with the necessary power to act, and how this action interferes with state and territory responsibilities to legislate for and to run adoption processes;

  5. the consequences of the Bill becoming law, and those remaining avenues available to the Commonwealth for legally recognising inter-personal relationships including same-sex relationships;

  6. the government's insistence that this Bill be introduced as a matter of urgency when there has been no demonstrated reason for its urgent introduction and no community consultation on the provisions of the Bill.


General Notes to Assist in the Preparation of Submissions

Lodging Submissions

Submissions are called for by 30 July 2004. Submissions become Committee documents and are only made public after a decision by the Committee. Unauthorised release of submissions is not covered by parliamentary privilege. Further assistance can be obtained by phoning the secretariat on (02) 6277 3560.

The Committee encourages the lodgement of submissions in electronic form to Please ensure that a postal address and phone number is enclosed with all email submissions.

Submissions may also be faxed to (02) 6277 5794.

Public Hearings

Friday 3 September 2004 Canberra - Room 2S1
Tuesday 14 September 2004 Melbourne - St James Court Convention Centre

Report - Tabled 6 September 2004

For further information