Civil Union Canberra

What is a civil union?

The Civil Unions Act 2012 guides this process and can be found here 

Civil Union Steps Involved


  • Find a celebrant and confirm the date. You also need to fill out the Notice of Intention to Enter into a Civil Union form.
  • Meet your celebrant and provide evidence of address, date of birth, divorces if any
  • Work with the celebrant to write the ceremony script which suits your style
  • Turn up on the day and say a few legal parts and the rest of the ceremony which you have planned
  • Sign a couple of documents

That’s all there is to it!


Eligibility for Civil Union

A person may enter into a civil union only if—

(a)    the person is an adult; and

(b)    the person is not—

(i)   married; or

(ii)   in a civil union; or

(iii)   in a civil partnership with someone other than the person’s proposed civil union partner; and

Note         A civil partnership ends if the parties to the civil partnership enter into a civil union with each other (see Domestic Relationships Act 1994, s 37H (1) (c)).

(c)    the person cannot marry the person’s proposed civil union partner under the Marriage Act 1961 (Cwlth); and

(d)    the person does not have any of the following relationships (a prohibited relationship) with the person’s proposed civil union partner:

(i)   lineal ancestor;

(ii)   lineal descendent;

(iii)   sister;

(iv)   half-sister;

(v)   brother;

(vi)   half-brother; and

(e)    the person, or the person’s proposed civil union partner, or both of them, live in the ACT.




May 1973 the process of change regarding recognition of same-sex relationships began. The motion to reform the law around homosexual acts was passed 64 to 40 and stated that ‘homosexual acts between consenting adults in private should not be subject to the criminal law’

May 1975 some aspects of male to male sexual activity became decriminalized in the ACT (though anal sex still retained a five year prison sentence if convicted). The age of consent was raised from 16 to 18. These ACT laws were signed off by the conservative government under Malcolm Fraser (Law Reform Ordinance 1976).

December 1985 the five year sentence was removed and the age of consent brought back to 16 to equal that of heterosexual sex.

July 1994 The Domestic Relationships Act became law in the ACT. This recognized the unions of same-sex couples providing distribution of property and finances almost similar to a legally married couple: ‘a personal relationship between 2 adults (other than a married couple) in which one [or both] provides personal or financial commitment and support of a domestic nature for the material benefit of the other.’

May 2008 a heavily diluted Civil Partnerships Act was settled on after the Federal Government refused to compromise on same-sex recognition. Whilst denying any ceremonial aspects of the Act for same-sex couples it did allow greater access to superannuation, taxation and social security law reforms which were amended federally at the same time.

November 2009 the Civil Partnerships Act was amended to allow same-sex couples to participate in an official partnership ceremony. The Act required same-sex couples to register their intention to hold a ceremony and was exclusive to same-sex couples.

August 2012 the Civil Union Act was passed. The Federal government defined marriage as only between man and woman in the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 thus removing its ability to legislate for territorial and state same-sex marriage. This Act gave similar rights as those who are married under the Marriage Act.

October 22 2013 the ACT Labor government passed the Marriage Equality Same-Sex Bill in the legislative assembly. The bill was passed 9 votes to 8. Immediately after this announcement the Liberal government under Tony Abbott stated they would be challenging the bill in the High Court of Australia. This will occur on 3rd and 4th of December 2013 and if successful would result in the prevention of marriages under the Marriage Equality Act 2013. In the meantime a couple who identify as same-sex may meet with an authorized celebrant under the Marriages Equality Act 2013 and start the process of becoming married. This involves filling out a Notice of Intended Marriage at least 30 days out from their marriage ceremony.

December 12 2013 Same-sex couples who wed in the ACT will have their marriages annulled after the High Court ruled against the laws. “A total of 27 couples, including some from interstate, used the law to tie the knot after it came into effect last weekend.” (ABC News 12/12/2013)

A copy of the Act can be found here (