It was a Thursday morning when Mamamia staffer Helena* strolled into the office and declared she could marry her uncle.
If she so desired.
Which she most definitely… did not.
But I digress.
The reason she made this uncomfortable announcement is because she’d only just learnt a not-so-fun fact while completing a course to become a marriage celebrant so she could officiate her sister’s wedding next year.
While buried in her modules, she stumbled upon laws that are at best, surprising, and at worst, borderline creepy.
Because the rules in Australia around who can marry who are, actually, somewhat lenient.
Has wedding preparation jumped the shark. Post continues.
About half our workplace rolled their eyes at Helena – these educated humans already knew such laws existed. But the other half? Our minds were blown. And in case you fall in the latter camp, I felt it was my duty to clue you in on this très important information.
And that is this: It’s completely legal for someone to marry their uncle or their aunty.
You can also choose to marry your cousin… if you’re into that kind of thing.
“I didn’t realise that Australian laws allowed this sort of marriage. I mean you hear stories about people marrying their cousins – but I didn’t think it was an actual thing,” Helena said.
“And would never have thought that it would be OK to marry your mum or dad’s siblings.”
But this also raises a more serious question.
“Learning that someone is able to marry their uncle or cousin was super shocking considering same sex marriage wasn’t legalised until recently,” Helena said.
The Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants states, “An uncle may marry his niece and an aunt may marry her nephew” and ” Cousins may marry each other”.
It’s also perfectly acceptable to marry your foster brother or sister, or step brother or sister, as long as you weren’t adopted by the adults who raised you.
But if you were adopted – but never lived in the same house at the same time – you can’t get married.
So, what isn’t allowed?
Under Australian law it’s illegal for a man to marry his grandmother, mother, sister or half-sister, daughter or granddaughter.
A woman also can’t marry her grandfather, father, brother or half-brother, son or grandson.
Well. Glad we’ve got that straight.
*Name has been changed
Did you know it’s legal to marry your cousin in Australia? Do you know anyone who has married a relative?