Nearly 300 people made public submissions to the ACT government in response to their same-sex relationship discussion paper before the deadline last Friday.

Initial news reports last week said only 100 submissions had been made and most were vehemently against gay marriage.

However, a spokesperson for chief minister John Stanhope told Sydney Star Observer there was a last-minute rush that saw another 200 submissions arrive.

And the views expressed in the new submissions were more balanced than they had been at the beginning.

The government’s discussion paper outlined various ways of legally recognising same-sex relationships in the Capital Territory. These included same-sex marriage, civil unions and a partnership registry.

We want every citizen in the ACT to feel their rights are acknowledged and respected. It’s only logical that we would pursue the issue of formalising same-sex relationships, Stanhope told Sydney Star Observer in May.

Last week Stanhope told ABC News the submissions tallied showed there was considerable opposition to marriage, and that the introduction of a registry or civil union system was much more likely.

There is broad support for allowing some recognition of gay and lesbian relationships in the law, Stanhope told the ABC.

There is some significant concern from some within the community about the prospect of legislating or seeking to legislate for gay and lesbian marriage, a position which may not be possible anyway because of commonwealth legislation around marriage, he said.

The ACT opposition has called on the government to release the submissions for public scrutiny in the interest of a full and frank consultation process. However, the government said it would not be doing so.

Stanhope’s Labor government, now in its second term, has a history of progressive law reform.

During its first term the party conducted an audit of all ACT legislation and started removing every piece of law which discriminated on the basis of sexuality. This included allowing gay and lesbian people to apply for adoption.

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