New same-sex civil unions push in ACT

Issue 

ABC Online reported on November 29 that the Australian Capital Territory's attorney-general, Simon Corbell, intended to introduce a bill that would give legal recognition to same-sex "civil unions".

In 2006, the ACT Labor government introduced a bill that would have allowed same-sex and opposite-sex couples, as well as transgender and intersex people, the ability to form civil unions that would give them access to the legal benefits of marriage. Philip Ruddock, then federal attorney-general, objected to such civil unions being treated as equivalent to marriage under the territory's laws. The Howard government overturned the ACT legislation.

On December 1, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Robert McClelland, the Rudd government's attorney-general, said the new federal government is unlikely to block the new ACT bill. The paper reported: "Mr McClelland told the Herald yesterday that Labor opposes gay marriages but would support moves to give same-sex couples the same legal rights as de facto heterosexual couples.

"'I will have a look at what Simon Corbell is proposing and get some advice on it,' he said.

"'We would be prepared to look at it with good faith rather than with the intention of obstructing it. The Labor Party has already resolved not to agree to gay marriage but we are given to examining appropriate forms of registration of de facto relationships, including same-sex de facto relationships.'"

In 2004, Labor backed federal legislation that banned same-sex marriages. In a March SMH op-ed, federal Labor MP Tanya Plibersek reiterated that the ALP "does not support changing the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriage".

A June 16-17 Galaxy poll commissioned by GetUp! found that 57% of Australians support the right of same-sex couples to get married; 37% oppose it. Seventy-one per cent agreed that same-sex partners should have the same rights as de facto heterosexual couples.

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