Monday, 2 November 2015

Queensland:Back to the Future for Civil Partnerships

Tomorrow when seemingly everyone else will be feeling particularly merry when the Cup is run, I will be giving evidence to Parliament.

The purpose is to scrutinise a Bill put forward by the Palaszczuk Government to take civil partnership legislation back to the Bligh model of 2011.

In the dying days of an almost unbroken 20 years of Labor rule in Queensland, Anna Bligh pushed through Parliament the Civil Partnerships Bill, which recognised for the first time civil unions or civil partnerships, as they were called. The Bill was opposed by the LNP. Several Labor MP's crossed the floor.

In 2012, the Newman Government , at the urging of the Australian Christian Lobby,pushed through its changes, which allowed the continued recognition of civil partnerships (now called relationships) but removed the ability to have a ceremony. To be fair, the Australian Christian Lobby wanted to abolish all forms of civil partnership.

Move forward to 2015 when the Palaczszuk Government's Bill is scrutinised tomorrow. I for one support the Bill, which reinstates the original 2011 version. As I said back in 2012:

I, for one, am a strong proponent for civil partnerships. We all in society ought to be able to have equality. Our ability to form a relationship with our significant other ought to be able to be recognised in law. Ideally, this would be by marriage. The ability to say to your partner "I love you" witnessed by your friends and families, and be recognised by the State, and by God if you are religious, is a fundamental right in my view. However, the ability to form civil unions or partnerships may also be an option open, if provided by law. Some people, who have the choice, may choose to have their relationships recognised at law, but do not want to be married.

Civil unions or civil partnerships represent a half way measure: the relationship for the first time is recognised at law, but Parliament has not legislated to allow marriage. The ability to recognise a de facto partnership by those partners as a loving relationship is an option for heterosexual couples in several States now, where the experience such as in Victoria is that some heterosexual couples have taken advantage of civil unions legislation. Those couples have made the choice that they want their relationships recognised at law, but do not want to be married.

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