07 February 2012

Queensland ruling on civil partnerships creates Australian visa pathway

A recent ruling in Queensland means that the state will begin recognising the legal right of civil partnerships, regardless of gender, in March. The announcement means that same sex couples will have the same rights to an Australian visa as heterosexual marriages.

Australia visa

Queensland joins the other eastern Australian states and territories which recognise civil partnerships between same sex couples.

On 23, March, Queensland will join New South Wales and Tasmania as states that recognise the rights of civil partnerships. While the debate rages on as to the legality and morality of the issue, many same sex couples are more concerned with the Australian visa options a civil union will bring.

The Australian immigration department made changes to migration regulations in 2009 which stated that if two individuals can prove that they "have registered their relationship under a prescribed state or territory law", then they do not have to prove that they have been in a relationship for over a year.

Under the new changes, any two consenting adults, regardless of gender, can register for a civil partnership and then, after a waiting period of 10 days, have their relationship officially recorded by the Queensland government. Registering with the local government will allow same sex couples to then apply for residency visas, provided one of them is already a resident of Queensland.

Deputy Premier of Queensland Andrew Fraser confirmed the state governor had approved the legislation and described the successful implementation as both "historic" and a "landmark occasion".

"I am proud to have introduced this legislation into the Parliament, and I am proud that with the support of my colleagues it was passed by the Parliament" said Mr Fraser.

"While it isn't marriage, it is the next best thing and as far as a state government can go in promoting relationship equality."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge Australia visa applications with the Australian Embassy.

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