The 'loophole' that's allowing same-sex couples to get married on Australian soil.

Australians have just under two weeks to return their same-sex marriage postal surveys to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

A week after that, the survey results will published for all of Australia to see, and the country will finally be able to see just where citizens stand when it comes to marriage equality.

So far, Australians have completed and returned the survey forms in unprecedented numbers (at last count, an estimated 74.5 per cent of eligible Australians have had their say) with votes 6 to 4 in favour of changing the marriage act to allow same-sex couples to marry.

If Australia favours a ‘yes’ vote, Malcolm Turnbull is expected to pass legislation that will finally extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples before Christmas.

But it turns out, a legal loophole means some same-sex couples have been allowed to marry on Australian soil for years.

same sex marriage rings wedding
Some same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in Australia for years. Image via Getty.

If one half of the couple is from a country where same-sex marriage is legalised, gay couples who live in Australia are able to wed at embassies and High Commissions in front of their close friends and family, should the nation permit it.

British citizens who live in Australia have been taking advantage of this ever since the UK passed same-sex marriage marriage laws in 2014. UK legislation states that citizens can marry across the globe in countries where same-sex marriage is not yet legalised, as long as local authorities do not object.

Despite the fact Australia has not yet legalised same-sex marriage, the Australian government allows the practice.

While this of course does not make up for the fact that Australian law remains so backwards, the 'consular wedding' business is apparently booming, with more than 400 couples utilising the law in just three years, ABC reports.

LISTEN: A message for Malcolm Turnbull about the same-sex marriage plebiscite.

One couple, Freddy Grant and Burton "Burt" Reynolds, became Melbourne's 81st couple to marry thanks to the loophole in August 2016.


"It's a statement of how far behind Australia is that we have to come here [the consul-general's house] to get married," 31-year-old Freddy told The Age after his nuptials.

"But it is good that it is at least an option."

Sandy Beveridge and his partner Robert Jervies married earlier this year under in the private residence of the UK High Commissioner in Canberra.

Sandy's 80-year-old mother, Libby, told Triple J's Hack she never believed she would live to see the day her son would be allowed to marry his sweetheart.

"Because of the ridiculous laws we have in this country, I didn't think it would ever happen," she said.

consulate wedding FB
Sandy Beveridge and his partner Robert Jervies married earlier this year in Canberra. Image via Facebook.

In order to qualify, prospective couples need to apply through the consulate, who then write their names on a board in the building to "invite objections".

If no one objects within 15 days, the pair can marry within three months.

It's believed at least two other embassies, Spain and Uruguay, also allow same-sex couples to marry on their grounds in Australia.

But couples like Sandy and Robert and Freddy Burt are painfully aware that many other Australian same-sex couples will not be able to marry unless the law is changed for everyone.

"[It's] a right not available to many others in their position," Melbourne's vice consul Nicole Bechard told The Age.

"We hope all couples can marry on Australian soil in the future."

The loophole is still only an option available for a small percentage of same-sex couples in Australia. It's time to make things fair for all.

Here's hoping that by next month, Australia will be well on the way to ensuring all couples can marry out in the open, and not just hidden behind embassy walls.