The first gay marriage to take place at a British consulate will not be recognised by the country in which it took place.
In Australia, gay marriage is still against the law, and the country also does not recognise same sex marriages performed in other countries.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 made gay marriage legal across England and Wales from March of this year. In June, this was extended to its consulates around the world.
Dual British-Australian citizens Peter Fraser and Gordon Stevenson were the first same sex couple to take advantage of this change in British law, allowing them to marry at the British consulate in Sydney.
Fraser said that being the first same sex couple to marry this way was a “privilege”, and that he and Stevenson had “waited a long time” for the chance.
He added that marriage was important to the couple because it is a way to have family, friends, community and the state officially recognise their love and partnership.
He said that his home country’s lack of recognition for same sex marriage made the day “bittersweet”.
British consul-general Nick McInnes said he was “privileged and lucky” to be part of the ceremony.
Rodney Croome, national director of the campaign group Australian Marriage Equality, said that the Australia’s decision to allow the consulate wedding to take place was a sign of hope for the future.
Speaking outside the consulate, he said:
“Today I have a very simple message for [Australian Prime Minister Tony] Abbott and our politicians. If same sex couples can marry in the building behind us, why can’t we marry everywhere in this great land?”
Last year, the Australian High Court overturned a law in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) which had allowed gay marriage, saying it was inconsistent with federal law.
The ACT is a small, self-governing territory in the south-east of the country which includes the Australian capital of Canberra. 27 same sex couples married in the territory before the law was overturned, and their marriages were annulled.
Photo of Sydney Harbour by Herry Lawford via Flickr