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Until 1999 the majority of marriages took place in church. Priests and Ministers were licenced to conduct the ceremony. Some religions did not approve of mixed marriages. For instance, when a Catholic wanted to marry a Protestant, the Protestant had to take instruction in Catholic principles, such as agreeing that any children were to be educated in a Catholic school and, if they did not convert, the wedding could not be held in the church proper, but in a side room. Couples who didn’t want a religious wedding could go to a government registry office, prompt and secular. For a long time, this was not considered to be a ‘proper wedding’. Until the early 1980s some Indigenous Queenslanders still had to get government permission to marry - the hangover of a long history of repressive legislation and administration. Civil celebrants now perform over three quarters of all marriages in Australia, in a wide variety of locations, from gardens to the beach.

In the last few years, there has been a great deal of public agitation to allow people of the same gender to marry. The proposition has fervent proponents and opponents.

‘No fault divorce’, introduced by the Australian Government in the 1970s, requiring only a year of separation, saw lawyers out of pocket and court journalists with much less juicy copy.

Bride and bridesmaids standing in front of a Holden, ca. 1951. The bride is sat between her two standing bridesmaids wearing a big white bridal gown, holding a bouquet.

Bride and bridesmaids standing in front of a Holden, ca1951, Photographer Unknown, John Oxley Library, SLQ, Negative no. 97163.

National day of action for marriage equality rally in Brisbane. A person stands on a stage next to a wedding cake made of paper. They are speaking into a microphone to a large crowd sat on the grass carrying rainbow flags and signs.
Break the silence: rally for Gay Law Reform. A pink poster with a black and white picture of protesters at a rally in the middle in the shape of a triangle.
A painted cardboard cutout of two women in bridal gowns holding wedding bouquets. The faces are cut out so people can put their heads through.
A painted cardboard cutout of two men in groom’s suits with rainbow bow ties. The faces are cut out so people can put their heads through.