On 14 February 2017, the ACT government passed the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (No 3) adding an amendment to the local civil union act automatically recognising same-sex marriage and unions from overseas jurisdictions with effect from 01 March 2017 [R1.27].
On 15 December 2016, Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay introduced the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) that would, if passed into law, amend the Civil Unions Act 2012 to ensure same-sex relationships recognised in other states, territories and countries have the same status as civil unions entered into in the ACT [R1.26].
On 22 August 2012, the ACT Government passed the Civil Unions Bill 2011, legislation enabling same-sex couples in the ACT to begin their civil union with a legally binding ceremony, similar to a secular marriage. The laws come into effect seven days after they are notified. The Civil Partnerships Act is thereupon repealed [L1.25], [R1.24].
On 11 August 2012, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell was reported as saying the Civil Unions Bill, giving same-sex couples the same rights as couples wed under the Marriage Act, was set to pass the Legislative Assembly when debated next week [R1.23].
In late November 2009, a compromise was reached between Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland and the ACT government in which same-sex couples are able to hold a civil partnership ceremony but will also have to notify the registrar-general. In effect, the celebrant will not have the power to declare a civil union, that power is in the hands of the registrar-general [R1.1].
Starting 20 November 2009, same-sex couples in the Australian Capital Territory will be able to participate in civil partnership ceremonies [R1.3].
In November 2009, the Assembly amended the civil partnerships law to allow same-sex unions. The law attempts to remove same-sex civil unions from federal jurisdiction to circumvent Federal Government’s opposition to same-sex civil unions [L1.3], [R1.2].
The Federal government agreed that the ceremonies could remain, although some minor changes have been made [R1.4].
On 21 September 2009, the ACT Labor Party voted unanimously to support the Civil Partnerships Amendment Bill, which would extend government-recognized civil unions to same-sex couples [L1.3], [R1.5].
In May 2009, the Greens announced they would introduce a bill the following month that would allow for formally recognised ceremonies as part of the Civil Partnership Act [L1.6], [R1.6].
From 24 May 2008, gay and lesbian couples in the ACT could legally affirm their commitment to each other with new laws providing a major step towards equal rights for same-sex families [R1.7].
In May 2008, the ACT Government began to accept same-sex couple registrations after moving quickly to introduce its civil partnership register with administrative ceremonies [R1.8].
A same-sex couple could enter into a same-sex relationship agreement that makes provision for particular matters. The financial aspects of that agreement may be enforced under the Domestic Relationships Act 1994 [L1.9] and the agreement is otherwise subject to, and enforceable under, the law of contract [R1.9].
The only mechanism for “registering” a relationship under ACT law was the Registration of Deeds Act 1957 [L1.10]. This Act provides that a person may register a deed with the Registrar-General, however no legal status would arise from registration [R1.10].
If a same-sex couple is not registered, establishing documentary proof of a same-sex relationship may be advisable and at a minimum this could perhaps be achieved by both partners making a statutory declaration [R1.10].
In December 2007 and February 2008, the Federal Attorney-General appeared to want states and territories to introduce relationship registers – similar to those operating in Tasmania and slated for Victoria – rather than allowing for civil unions [R1.11].
In November 2007, following the election of the Rudd Labor Government, the ACT government announced it would reintroduce its Civil Unions Bill, formerly vetoed by (outgoing Prime Minister) John Howard and (Attorney-General) Philip Ruddock [R1.12].
In February 2007, the ACT Government made several changes to Civil Unions Act, replacing the term “civil union” with “civil partnership” so that it was not confused with marriage [R1.13].
In June 2006, Chief Minister Jon Stanhope accused then Prime Minister John Howard of misleading the Australian public over the gay marriage issue [R1.14].
On 13 May 2006, the revised Civil Union Act was rejected by the Federal Attorney-General [R1.15]
On 11 May 2006, the ACT legislative Assembly passed the Civil Union Act. The Act gave equality and legal recognition to same sex couples [R1.16]. However, the Federal Government moved to override the legislation [R1.17].
In March 2006, legislation was introduced to give couples equality with married couples in areas such as wills and the division of property where a person dies without having made a will [R1.18].
In December 2005, the ACT Government announced that it was drafting legislation to provide for civil unions in the ACT, paving the way for same-sex couples to have their relationships formally recognised for the first time [R1.19].
See: Civil Unions Fact Sheet
In October 2002, to achieve equal legal status for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people by eliminating discriminatory references in legislation, more than 70 ACT Acts and regulations contained potentially discriminatory provisions would have to be amended [R1.20].
In November 2001, the Election of an ALP government in the Australian Capital Territory brought with it fresh hopes for lesbian and gay law reform – including the possibility of registered civil unions for couples [R1.21].
In June 2009, ACT Corrective Services introduced the Corrections Management (Private Family Visits) Policy 2009 allowing conjugal visits to low and medium security prisoners with “a consistent record of good conduct at the AMC, usually over a minimum period of three months”. Visits allow partners including same-sex partners to have “intimate time” once every two months in “domestic surroundings”, where they are provided with condoms and enjoy “reduced supervision” [R1.22].