Renee Pilcher

ACT could be open door to gay marriage by end of year

GAY couples from Queensland and New South Wales will soon be able to head south to get legally married, under planned changes to the Australian Capital Territory's marriage laws.

The ACT Government on Thursday introduced new laws to make same-sex marriage legal in the nation's capital.

Introduced to a standing ovation in the ACT Parliament, the new laws were expected to pass with the support of the Labor-Greens territory government.

Gay and lesbian couples living in other areas will be able to get married in the ACT as early as the end of this year - although the unions would not be officially recognised by other state governments.

The new laws, expected to pass the territory parliament next month, were also widely tipped to receive a High Court challenge from opponents of same-sex marriage.