The majority of Australians support the recognition of same-sex relationships under federal law, according to a national survey.

A Newspoll survey, undertaken last week, found 52 percent of the 1,200 respondents agreed the federal government should introduce a new law to formally recognise same-sex relationships in Australia.

Thirty-seven percent did not agree and 11 percent said they did not know.

The question was asked during a Newspoll survey into the separation of church and state commissioned by the Secular Party of Australia.

David Scamell, co-convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, told Sydney Star Observer he discussed the survey results during a series of meetings with politicians in Canberra this week.

Most of the Liberal MPs he’d spoken to had responded positively to the issues of removing discrimination around tax, superannuation, social security and Medicare, he said.

However, Scamell had been told during a meeting with senior members of the prime minister’s staff that John Howard would not change his policy on same-sex relationship recognition.

It’s quite clear from speaking with the PM’s office that their position won’t be changing in terms of how the government deals with same-sex relationships and same-sex families, Scamell said.

We’ve been told in no uncertain terms that his policy won’t change. So our task is to keep working closely with members of the Coalition to point out areas of arbitrary discrimination.

Scamell had also met with Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Liberal MP Warren Entsch, as well as ALP and Democrat MPs.

Despite the prime minister’s refusal to budge on the issue of relationship recognition, the fact the attorney-general and members of Howard’s staff had met with the Lobby for the first time was very promising, he said.

Generally the meetings have been going quite well. It’s obvious people are really starting to talk about these issues down in Canberra, and a lot of politicians are aware of the debates taking place around civil unions and marriage, he said.

The politicians were interested in hearing about the day-to-day practical areas of federal legislation where discrimination still exists for same-sex couples.

It’s encouraging to see more and more politicians want to be more engaged about these issues. And it’s our job to make federal politicians aware of them.

The Newspoll statistics were an excellent tool to show parliamentarians there was widespread support for same-sex relationship recognition.

I think a lot of politicians who oppose same-sex relationship recognition think of the marriage inquiry -“ where there were 12,000 emails from churches across the country -“ as indicative of the overall feeling within Australian society, Scamell said.

But this Newspoll obviously shows the complete opposite. That the majority of Australians do support the federal government giving same-sex couples a fair go and treating them equally under the law.

Members of the Australian Coalition for Equality were also lobbying politicians in Canberra this week.

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