Ruddock invalidates ACT civil unions


Farida Iqbal, Canberra

On June 13, federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock and federal territories minister Jim Lloyd met with Governor-General Michael Jeffery to disallow legislation adopted by the Australian Capital Territory parliament according legal recognition to same-sex partnerships. "The ACT civil relationships ordinance has been disallowed", Ruddock told journalists after the meeting.

"This is a homophobic decision", ACT attorney-general Simon Corbell told the June 13 Canberra Times. "They weren't even prepared to pass legislation in the federal parliament to do this. Instead, they skulked in through the back door of Government House this morning, less than [two hours] after our own speaker had been there asking for a more constructive approach."

The invalidation of the ACT Civil Unions Act (2006) followed an earlier meeting between Jeffrey and Wayne Berry, the speaker of the ACT Legislative Assembly. Berry requested that Jeffrey let the legislation stand, or request amendments to it, rather than disallow it in its entirety.

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle put a motion in the Senate the next day to reverse the disallowance. The motion was supported by Green, Democrat and Labor senators, but was defeated by the votes of all but one Liberal senator — Gary Humphries, senator for the ACT. He voted for Nettle's motion, not to support legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, but to support the legislative autonomy of the ACT.

The ACT Labor government is considering whether to introduce new legislation for civil unions.

A new campaign coalition was formed in Canberra on June 10. Initiated by the Socialist Alliance, the Civil Unions Defence Coalition (CUDC) includes members of the ACT Good Process queer lobby group, the Jellybabies queer social club, QueerAction and the socialist youth organisation Resistance.

To join the CUDC yahoogroup, send a blank email to <> or visit the CUDC website at <>.

From Green Left Weekly, June 21 2006.
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