Current Affairs

Oz Federal Government rejects gay union proposal

PinkNews Staff Writer December 15, 2006
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Australia’s Federal Government has again expressed dissatisfaction with gay union laws put forward by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

The ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell presented the Civil Partnerships Bill 2006 into the Legislative Assembly this week, months after it was rejected by Attorney General Philip Ruddock for being too similar to marriage.

However, after looking at the new proposals, Mr Ruddock has claimed that the ACT still has not done enough.

He told ABCNewsOnline, “With goodwill you can fix many things but I don’t think the ACT Government demonstrated goodwill by essentially introducing legislation without talking to us about it first.”

Mr Corbell said the new Civil Partnerships Bill was in some ways similar to the disallowed Civil Unions Act 2006, but with modifications designed to address the concerns expressed by the Commonwealth Government.

“Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, the term ‘civil partnership’ has been used in preference to ‘civil union’,” he said.

“The term ‘civil partnership’ is used to avoid using the language of marriage.

The old common law formulation of marriage, which the Commonwealth incorporated into the Marriage Act 1961 in 2004, is that marriage is ‘the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’. A civil partnership is not a marriage, and the use of ‘partnership’ instead of ‘union’ highlights this difference.

“The new Civil Partnerships Bill also does not contain the provision that the Commonwealth apparently found to be so unacceptable, that said a civil union was to be treated in the same way as marriage under ACT law. Instead, the Civil Partnerships Bill provides that a civil partnership is a domestic partnership, a concept already well-established in Territory law.

“The Government remains committed to a policy that it went to the electors with in the 2004 election, and that policy is to legislate for two people, regardless of their gender, to enter into a legally recognised relationship. Canberrans in same sex relationships are entitled to have the same rights under the law as other members of the community.”

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