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  • 09.01.10

Tasmania Welcomes Married Gays, Not Gay Marriage

The Australian state recognizes same sex marriages made outside the country, which sounds too formulaic to not be an immigration incentive to boost population and woo a free-spending demographic.

Tasmania made a big move this week by saying it would formally recognize the civil unions of people of the same sex made outside the country. Wait. Huh? You won’t legalize same-sex marriage, but you’ll welcome, with open arms, people who were married outside your borders?

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This just sounds like a sneaky ploy to get more people into the country. An article published earlier this year clearly lays out that Tasmania is on the hunt for more residents, so why wouldn’t the sort-of-wishy-washy stance on gay marriage be part of that same plan?

Tasmania’s Liberal Party actually wants to boost its population by 70,000 more people and wants to pay people to move there. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Northern Tasmanian coverage, “A Liberal Government would pay individuals $2,500 and couples $5,000 to relocate to Tasmania but there are conditions. People have to be under 45, be qualified, be able to secure to full-time work and have not lived in Tasmania for four years prior to making their application.” Getting very specific now, aren’t we? It’s just a matter of time before they say, outright, that they want more gay residents. Afterall, the gay community has long been known to be an extremely lucrative market. A gay travel company, Toto Tours, states, “A large volume of disposable income paired with relative freedom to travel without dependents further lends credence to the statistical information gathered by the Gay and Lesbian Press.” Market size estimates center around $514 billion dollars annually.

Noone has outright said that the new plan includes incentivizing the gay community to move to Tasmania, though there are hints. “Population follows lifestyle which we are securing through investment in a whole range of areas and economic opportunity,” said Premier David Bartlett. If “lifestyle” isn’t code word for high-income gay couples with no kids, which would certainly boost the local economy and reduce costs associated with children, then I don’t know what is.

Nepal’s first openly gay member of Parliament, Sunil Pant, who is
leading a gay rights revolution across Asia and who we featured last
month
, knows a thing or two about tapping into the lucrative gay market
for tourism. He’s on an aggressive quest to legalize gay marriage in
Nepal and make it an uber gay-friendly travel destination, with tailored
trips to Mount Everest and more. “I’m extremely
happy to hear that Tasmania recognizes legal marriages made outside the
country. Tasmania has moved a long way forward,” Pant tells Fast Company. “As
Nepal will be recognizing same sex relationships soon, this news makes
me proud to be part of a progressing region, ‘the Asia-pacific.’ I hope
the progress in Tasmania and Nepal will inspire other countries in the
region like India, China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, etc.”

Forget South Beach and the Castro. Tasmania is so hot right now.  

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.

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