Rainbow Labor NSW’s civil union proposal to the National ALP Conference in July has drawn criticism from within the Australian gay and lesbian activist community for pandering to anti-gay prejudices.
The motion being circulated among branches seeks to replace the current unfulfilled policy of state-based relationship registers with federal civil unions like the New Zealand example.
If adopted, it would replace the current language stating same-sex registers should not mimic marriage.
Rainbow Labor NSW spokesman Michael Vaughan said civil unions would ideally be equivalent to marriage in every way, open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, with the option of an official ceremony.
We’ve had meetings with ministers and backbenchers, Vaughan told SSO. There’s broad community support and that’s being reflected in Parliament, but it’s an ongoing process so that’s why we’re talking to branches.
The proposal drew criticism from lobby groups Equal Love and Australian Marriage Equality (AME) which are opposed to civil unions as a barrier to full equality. AME has released a report citing 11 reasons why marriage equality should take preference over civil unions based on ongoing discrimination and stigma in countries with civil unions.
Achievability may have been an argument for civil unions five years ago, but the world has moved on so quickly in its attitudes to same-sex marriage that civil unions now look like yesterday’s ad hoc, stopgap solution, AME spokesman Peter Furness said.
Civil unions are not a stage through which Australia must pass, but a mistake from which we must learn.
However, Vaughan said Rainbow Labor’s lobbying of MPs included support for same-sex marriage.
At the moment I’m in Canberra and in all the meetings we’ve expressed our support for full marriage equality, Vaughan said. The motion … is not meant to encompass Rainbow Labor’s entire political position on relationship recognition. In our submission to the second draft of the National Platform, Rainbow Labor will put in a submission for marriage equality.
SSO understands another ALP group will propose a full marriage equality motion that does not mention civil unions.
The second draft of the ALP National Platform will be released next month.