A Labor government would make same-sex couples equal to de facto opposite-sex couples in terms of practical day-to-day rights, shadow Attorney General Nicola Roxon said.
But same-sex marriage is definitely not on the ALP’s agenda.
We won’t change the Marriage Act to recognise same-sex marriage, Roxon told Sydney Star Observer.
Our priority is getting same-sex couples all of the recognition that other relationships have. We don’t see that there’s any reason to change the Marriage Act.
Roxon’s comments followed conflicting reports on the ALP’s position on same-sex marriage.
After Prime Minister John Howard flagged a plan to amend the Marriage Act to remove any possibility of same-sex marriage, Roxon was reported as saying Labor would not dispute the amendment, essentially supporting Howard’s plan.
There were other reports that Labor would not make a decision until they saw exactly what the amendment was.
Roxon told the Star the ALP had not seen any proposed amendment to the Marriage Act and would not commit to supporting or disputing Howard’s plan until the new legislation was on the table.
In terms of proposed policy, Roxon said the ALP would undertake an audit of all legislation to weed out any areas of discrimination against gay and lesbian people.
Marriage is not the first issue. We see removing a whole lot of other barriers to equality as the main priority. It’s about equal rights for individual people, recognising the relationships and families that same-sex couples are in. The Marriage Act is not the tool to do that.
The audit, including consultation with relevant community groups, would commence straight after an ALP election victory, Roxon said. Changes to legislation would begin within 12 months. It’s critical that we engage the community to make sure we don’t neglect an area of importance, she said.