Starting Thursday, same-sex couples in the Australian Capital Territory, or ACT, will be able to participate in civil partnership ceremonies.
Last week the legislative assembly approved a bill allowing such ceremonies after a change was made to ensure that civil partnerships would not be the same as marriages. Gay and lesbian ACT residents have been able to register as civil partners since 2008 but could not have a government-backed ceremony.
The federal government has been urged by Christian groups and Catholic archbishop of Canberra Mark Coleridge to overturn the law. However, Atty. Gen. Simon Corbell said Tuesday that the archbishop was undermining the parliament, adding that the Catholic Church is perpetuating discrimination against gay people, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.