Perth couple to become first same sex divorce in Australia

The amendments to the Marriage Act last week meant that those across the country woke up on Saturday with their international same-sex marriages finally recognised. For one Perth woman the announcement sparked an entirely different celebration: finally able to be divorced.

The woman was married to her long time partner in Europe in 2015, but when the relationship dissolved found that they would find it incredibly difficult to file for divorce due to the Australian legislation of the time.

The pair hired solicitor Maria Loukas and barrister Teresa Farmer to act on behalf of the Perth woman. They found her options very slim, and Loukas told the ABC that the state of the marriage had left her client in limbo.

“For her it’s been about not being able to move on,” Ms Loukas said. “It’s been about not being able to tidy up the end of something to be able to start fresh somewhere else. She’s been held back in many ways.”

As of Saturday’s implementation of the amendments of the Marriage act, Loukas’ client may become part of the first same-sex couple to be divorced in Australia. Whilst it may seem counter-intuitive, it the ability to divorce a same sex marriage is also a huge step towards equal treatment for queer relationships.

In August of this year the United Nations found that Australia violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by not providing same sex couples access to divorce.

The committee reasoned that other marriages which are not recognised in Australia (such as polygamous or adolescent marriages) were able to be dissolved, and therefore the differential treatment of same-sex couples constituted discrimination. Interestingly enough, same sex marriage itself was not deemed necessary for the UN’s definition of equality.

Hopefully now, with the Marriage Act amendments, Loukas’ client and others like her will finally be granted the peace of a fresh slate.


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