find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Corporate Lawyer
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· 12 months fixed term opportunity
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Same-sex couples left in ‘legal limbo’

Same-sex couples left in ‘legal limbo’

Couple

As debate around same-sex marriage heats up again, Gilbert + Tobin has reinforced the importance of recognising marriage equality as an international human rights issue.

The firm recently acted pro bono in what’s being described as a landmark decision of the UN Human Rights Committee, which found that Australia must give access to its divorce mechanisms to same-sex couples who married overseas.

In the matter C v Australia, Gilbert + Tobin brought forward the petition on behalf of Fiona Kumari Campbell.

According to a statement from the firm, Ms Campbell is an Australian citizen who married her same-sex partner of 10 years in Canada in 2004. The women have since separated, and Ms Campbell was unable to obtain a divorce because the marriage between the two women was not recognised in Australia.

“In finding Australia in breach of Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Human Rights Committee has found Australia could not justify its legal discrimination against same-sex married couples given it grants access to its divorce mechanisms to certain other foreign marriages which it does not otherwise allow, such as polygamous marriages and marriages between certain adolescents,” a statement from Gilbert + Tobin said.

Speaking further, Gilbert + Tobin pro bono partner Michelle Hannon said the firm is proud to have acted for Ms Campbell in this matter, which is over five years in the making.

“As the debate over same-sex marriage continues in Australia, same-sex couples who have married overseas are left in legal limbo by their inability to divorce,” Ms Hannon said.

“This decision goes another step closer towards recognising marriage equality as an international human rights issue.”

Gilbert + Tobin lawyer Ghassan Kassisieh, who worked on the case, echoed a similar sentiment.

“The committee again affirmed the fundamental principle that laws cannot discriminate against same sex couples without compelling reasons, even in the area of divorce,” he said.

“In the five years we worked on this case, decision after decision has affirmed that principle in the field of marriage and divorce, and now the international human rights system is slowly moving closer to that view too.”

Meanwhile, Ms Campbell said: “After a long wait the Human Rights Committee has restored my faith in the international law system to deliver justice given the absence of an Australian bill of rights”.

“The decision legitimises the reality of my marriage and my experience of being treated differently because of the sex of my marriage partner. It acknowledges the incongruence between the dissolution of my marriage in real life and the law,” she said.

“I hope that the government will act to ensure a divorce remedy is available so I can get on with my life and have a consistent marital status irrespective of where I go.”

The Turnball government announced yesterday that it would take its same-sex marriage plebiscite bill to the Senate this week. If the bill passes, the plebiscite will take place on 25 November.

It was also disclosed that if the Senate votes down the plebiscite bill, the Turnball government will go ahead with a non-compulsory postal vote, which will cost approximately $122 million. The postal plebiscite will wrap up by November 15.  

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Same-sex couples left in ‘legal limbo’
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Warning
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Unite
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, even how we take a...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...