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Church backs transsexual marriage challenge

The Church is backing moves to challenge a Family Court decision allowing transsexual marriages.

The Catholic Leader reports that the ruling was made by the full bench of the Family Court on February 21 in relation to the marriage of 'Kevin', who was born female but had a sex change, and 'Jennifer'.

The couple, who have two children born through IVF, had won their case to have their marriage validated in the Family Court in 1999 but Federal Attorney-General Daryl Williams appealed against the decision to the full bench of the court.

The full bench ruled against the appeal in a decision that touched on the meaning of marriage and redefined the meaning of 'man' to include 'a post-operative transsexual'.

The full bench also rejected the argument that procreation was a principal purpose of marriage and that a marriage did not need to be consummated to be considered valid. Mr Williams is now considering a High Court challenge.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference research fellow, Dr Warwick Neville, supports the challenge.

Dr Neville said the case raised several issues about the definition of marriage.

Director of the Queensland Bioethics Centre in Brisbane archdiocese, Ray Campbell, said if decisions are going to be made on the nature of marriage it was more appropriate that those decisions be taken in Parliament rather than by a few High Court judges.

Catholic Leader

Church challenges landmark court ruling on marriage (24/2/03)
Family Court of Australia | The Attorney-General for the Commonwealth and "Kevin and Jennifer" and Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission [2003] FamCA 94 (summary of judgment)

27 Feb 2003