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ROMANTIC 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Judge marries his partner 50 years after they first met

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Australian former High Court judge Michael Kirby married his partner of 50 years, Johan van Vloten, on Feb. 10, reports Rik Glauert for GayStarNews. The pair tied the knot 50 years to the day after they first met at legendary gay venue the Rex Hotel in Sydney in 1969.

Kirby told Radio National "the relationship that was made that night lasted from that moment on really, and it’s still going strong." He said he had been ’skeptical’ about marriage. But, he said, they wanted to show their relationship was not ’second class."

"When gays started to get married they started to fall out and act just like straights — it was really a big worry and we weighed up every possibility, and then we’ve decided to take the plunge’ he told the radio station.

"The 50th anniversary was just too romantic for us to let go’ he said. In November, Kirby said the pair planned to go back to the Rex, which is now a bistro, to celebrate their wedding.

"Celebrant Michelle Bailey told wedding guests the pair did not feel ‘a special need’ to register their marriage, according to ABC.‘Shared love does not seek permission from officials for its existence’ she said. ‘Fifty years and counting says it all’.

Kirby, who served on the High Court from 1996 to 2009. Since retirement, he has been vocal in advocating for human rights, including LGBT rights. Australia finally legalized equal marriage in January last year. It followed a nasty postal vote that caused significant damage to the LGBT community. Initially, Kirby said he would boycott the vote. But, eventually, he voted yes.

Kirby is patron of the University of South Wales’ Kirby Institute. The institute researches infectious diseases. It was established during the emerging HIV epidemic in 1986.