The Australian High Court has struck down the Capital Territory's same-sex marriage laws, upholding a challenge by the Abbott Government and ruling Parliament must decide whether to approve the law.
According to a judgment summary published on the High Court website before the official announcement, the court ruled against the ACT state Government's historic Act, saying it conflicted with the Federal Marriage Act.
In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that the national parliament - not state and territory authorities - had the ultimate say over marriage and whether it was extended to same-sex couples was a matter for lawmakers.
"The Marriage Act does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same-sex couples," the court said.
"That Act is a comprehensive and exhaustive statement of the law of marriage," it added.
Had the nation's top court upheld the Australian Capital Territory's gay marriage legislation it would have opened the door to similar laws being passed across the country, pressuring the government to make it legal at a national level.
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher told The Australian yesterday she was anxious about the court's ruling, especially as same-sex couples had already taken advantage of the laws by marrying in Canberra after it came into effect on Saturday.
A total of 27 same-sex marriages will now have to be declared invalid.
Gay marriage has been explicitly outlawed in Australia since 2004, when then-prime minister John Howard amended the Marriage Act to specify that such unions were only valid between a man and a woman.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was elected in September on a platform of opposing marriage equality, and his government immediately launched action against the Act when it was passed in October.
Attorney-General George Brandis urged the ACT government at the time to wait for the outcome of the High Court challenge before allowing couples to marry, The Canberra Times reports, but the Government was defiant – arguing their law could operate concurrently with federal laws.
3 News/ AFP