Australia's High Court has struck down a law allowing gay marriage in the nation's capital territory. The ruling means some two dozen same-sex couples will see their marriages annulled less than a week after marrying.
In a unanimous decision, Australia's High Court ruled Thursday that the national parliament, not state and territory authorities, had the ultimate say over marriage.
The court said the Australian Capital Territory's law could not operate concurrently with the federal Marriage Act, which was amended in 2004 to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
"Under the constitution and federal law as it now stands, whether same-sex marriage should be provided for by law is a matter for the federal parliament," the court said.
The territory became the only jurisdiction in Australia to permit same-sex marriage in October, despite warnings from the government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott that the new legislation did not comply with federal laws.
Same-sex couples can have civil unions or register their relationships in most states across Australia but the government does not consider them "married" under national law, even though they have the same rights as married couples.
Last year, Australia's parliament twice rejected bills to allow same-sex marriage. Abbott, whose conservative Liberal-National party coalition came to power in September, does not support same-sex marriage and has not allowed his party a conscience vote on the issue.
hc/lw (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)