The first ever legal same-sex weddings in Australia are set to take place this Saturday, but these may not be allowed for long.
A number of gay and lesbian couples are expected to tie the knot in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) this weekend after its gay marriage law was given a court reprieve until later this month.
In October, the ACT Parliament approved a marriage equality bill which is now being challenged by the federal government.
The ACT is a self-governing territory in south east Australia in which Canberra, the capital city of Australia, is located.
On Tuesday, after hearing arguments for and against the constitutionality of the ACT’s gay marriage law, the High Court reserved its judgement for December 12, five days after marriages are due to begin under the ACT legislation.
This means that same-sex couples will be able to begin to marry in the territory from Saturday, but the law could still be ruled unconstitutional later this month.
The ACT government says 47 couples have lodged papers to get married.
“This will be a great day for same-sex couples, their families and all Australians who support this important reform,” said Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome.
“Australian same-sex partners will be able to marry the person they love in the country they love.”
However, it is possible that these marriages will be declared invalid if the law is overturned.
“I’m sure couples will welcome the fact that the law will come into operation and that they can marry under the law, albeit, with the prospect that there is some risk to those ceremonies because of the uncertainty surrounding the High Court case until we receive the court’s judgement,” commented ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell.
Under Australian federal law, marriage is currently defined as only being between a man and woman.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is opposed to same-sex marriage rights.