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Australia high court overturns same-sex marriage legislation

The High Court of Australia [official website] on Thursday struck down [press release, PDF] The Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act of 2013 [text, PDF], which allowed same-sex couples to marry within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The court ruled by unanimous decision that the act cannot operate concurrently with the federal Marriage Act of 1961 [text, PDF] and that the federal Parliament solely has the power under the Australian Constitution to allow for same-sex marriage. The Marriage Equality Act was enacted by the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory and allowed same-sex couples, regardless of in which Australian state they live, to marry within the ACT.

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] has been a contentious issue around the globe. Last month the Scottish Parliament [official website] completed [JURIST report] the first step towards the passage of the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill [text, PDF] by a 98-15 vote in favor of the bill. In July the UK legalized [JURIST report] same sex marriages, officially enabling same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies. In April the New Zealand Parliament voted [JURIST report] 77-44 in favor of an amendment [text] to the existing Marriage Act of 1955 [text] that would allow same-sex couples to marry, becoming the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize gay marriage.

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