In Australia, marriage between first cousins is legal nationwide. Here is an overview of the laws allowing Australian cousins to wed and prevailing social attitudes.

Marriage Act Allows Cousins to Marry

According to the federal Marriage Act of 1961, marriage is allowed between first cousins in Australia. The Act defines prohibited marriages as those between direct descendants and ancestors or siblings.

However, first cousins do not fall under the prohibitions. The law does not restrict marriages between collateral relatives including biological, adoptive, and double first cousins.

No Extra Requirements for Cousins

Australian first cousins can legally marry without any special requirements such as genetic testing, medical screenings, or fertility exams imposed. They enjoy full marriage rights.

Some countries mandate such precautions before allowing cousin marriages, but Australia has no such constraints. Cousin couples face no impediments.

Second Cousins Also Allowed to Wed

Additionally, the Marriage Act places no restrictions on marriages between second cousins or more distant biological relatives. First cousins once removed may freely marry as well.

Only relationships between direct linear descendants like siblings and direct ancestors/descendants are expressly forbidden under Australian federal law.

Social Stigma Still Exists for Some

While legally permitted nationwide, social acceptance of cousin marriage varies across different regions and communities of Australia. Some indigenous groups traditionally practiced cousin marriage.

But in mainstream modern society, many still view cousin marriages as taboo or risking birth defects in children. Stigma may be decreasing among younger generations though.

Rationale for Permitting Cousin Marriage

Opponents argue cousin marriages warrant bans due to potential health risks. However, supporters say evidence does not justify prohibiting the relationships, and doing so excessively limits personal freedom.

Australia’s laws aim to balance public health with individual liberty by excluding only the closest familial relationships from marriage eligibility.


In summary, first cousins have full marriage rights under Australian federal law. No restrictions or special requirements apply to cousin couples compared to the general population. While social acceptance fluctuates, the law unambiguously permits Australians to marry their first or second cousins if they wish.