Qld gov't abolishes ceremonies for same-sex civil unions

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said on June 12 that the government would abolish state-sanctioned civil ceremonies for same-sex couples, but still allow them to formally register their partnership.

Same-sex civil unions were introduced in February by the former Labor government.

The move follows a big rally last month to protest against plans to abolish same-sex union laws entirely in Queensland. Newman said he wanted to remove “provisions which 'emulated' marriage”, which we're opposed by Christian churches, the June 13 Courier-Mail said.

Family law expert Anne-Marie Rice told the Courier-Mail it was not yet clear if the Surrogacy Act, which allows same-sex couples to legally have surrogate children, would be repealed. She said any repeal of legislation would be “a setback”.

Rice said: "I do think there is a loss of rights and it is definitely a loss for those couples who wish to make a very public declaration of their relationship. That right has been withdrawn [but] the right to register the civil partnership has not been lost, which is the black-and-white unromantic legal entitlement."

Newman said that since the passage of the Civil Partnerships Act, 609 unions had been registered, but only 21 declaration ceremonies had been held. The Courier-Mail said that under the act “same-sex couples had to give a 'notice of intention' to enter into a civil partnership and had a year to register their ceremony -- meaning hundreds of couples could now be denied the right to go ahead with their state-sanctioned union”.

Mark Morein from the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC), which had its funding for HIV/AIDS support work cut by the Newman government last month, told the June 13 Courier-Mail that “churches should not interfere with the workings of civil society”.

"Churches should of course be free to conduct church marriages as they may see fit but fundamentalist churches should not be able to dictate how others conduct their civil partnerships.”

LGTBI Legal Services president Merran Lawler told the June 14 Brisbane City News the group wanted to hear from people who had been affected by the changes. "We're particularly interested in not just people who had already undertaken a ceremony but those who had made future arrangements ... We would certainly look at legal action if that's what they want to do.”

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