Relationships Act
The Tasmanian Approach
© April 3, 2006, Demian


The Tasmanian registration status was established in 2004. It is the first Australian state to offer a registration status for same-sex couples and other “caring” relationships.

By offering a domestic partnership registration status, instead of legal marriage, the Australian state of Tasmania created an apartheid, with one set of laws pertaining to opposite-sex couples, and another for same-sex couples. [See Marrying Apartheid]

While this status offers an improved range of protections for same-sex couples who live in Tasmania, it contains many gaps.

While the Relationships Act recognizes a range of “significant relationships,” including those between a person and a long-term care giver, or elderly friends who live together, no “caring” relationships have been registered.

The Tasmanian “Relationships” status is recognized in Great Britain, which has its own registration status.

Gay sex was illegal in Tasmania until 1997, when the anti-sodomy law was repealed (earlier reports placed the law change in 1994).

For the privilege of gaining access to the less-than-equal status, a couple needs to fork over a fee of $200.

As of January 15, 2006, a mere 58 couples registered. Only one male couple un-registered.

As of April 4, 2006, 63 couples have registered.

The Relationships Act provides for recognition and registration of two types of relationships: significant and caring.

Types of Relationships
You can register a Significant Relationship if:
  • Relationship is between two adults who have a relationship as a couple
  • You are not married to one another
  • You are not related by family
  • Both parties live in Tasmania
You can register a Caring Relationship if:
  • Relationship is between two adults, whether or not related by family, one of whom provides the other with domestic support and personal care
  • You are not married to one another
  • You are not in an existing significant or caring relationship
  • Neither party is receiving payment for the care of the other either from employment or government departments
  • Both parties live in Tasmania

Registration Rights
  • Superannuation
  • Taxation
  • Insurance
  • Health Care
  • Hospital Visitation
  • Wills
  • Property Division
  • Employment Conditions (such as parenting and bereavement leave)

Tasmania’s Web site for registration:
“Births Deaths and Marriages: Relationships”
www.justice.tas.gov.au/bdm/relationships








Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
Nations

        Netherlands (2001)
        Belgium (2003)
        Canada (2005)
        Spain (2005)
        South Africa (2005)
        Norway (2009)
        Sweden (2009)
        Mexico City (Mexico) (2009)
        Iceland (2010)
        Argentina (2010)
        Portugal (2010)
        France (2013)
        New Zealand (2013)
US States and Territories

        Massachusetts (2004)
        California (2008)
        Connecticut (2008)
        Iowa (2009)
        Vermont (2009)
        New Hampshire (2009)
        District of Columbia (2009)
        New York (2011)
        Maine (2012)
        Washington (2012)
        Maryland (2013)
        Rhode Island (2013)
        Delaware (2013)
        Minnesota (2013)
        Illinois (2013)
        Utah (2013) - stayed, pending legal challenge
        New Jersey (2013)
        Hawaii (2013)
        New Mexico (2013)
        Michigan (2014) - stayed, pending legal challenge
        Oregon (2014)
        Wisconsin (2014) - stayed, pending legal challenge
        Arkansas (2014) - stayed, pending legal challenge
        Pennsylvania (2014)
        Indiana (2014)
Native American Tribes

        Coquille Tribe in OR (2008)
        Suquamish Tribe in WA (2011)
        Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in MI (2013)

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