Australia’s High Court ruled unanimously against legislation allowing gay marriage in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) on Thursday, saying that the issue should be decided by parliament.
The decision came after the national government argued that the law in the ACT, where the capital Canberra is located and which introduced the country’s first same-sex marriage law only this month, was invalid because it created confusion with federal legislation that defined marriage as a union between only a man and a woman.
For the 27 couples who were legally married under the law since it came into effect on Dec. 7, it now means their unions will be declared invalid, BBC reports. Advocates for marriage equality called the ruling to be “devastating” for those couples.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott opposes same-sex marriage, a view that is supported by the Australian Christian Lobby, which welcomed the ruling. Senator Christine Milne, leader of the Australian Greens party, said the ruling was “a clarion call for everyone in the country who supports marriage equality to now put pressure on the Federal Government and Federal Parliament to change it.”