Same-sex couples in South Australia will be able to form civil unions under a plan being proposed by state Liberal MP Mark Brindal.
Under Brindal’s Civil Unions Bill gay couples would for the first time be legally recognised under South Australian law, giving them many of the same property and financial rights married heterosexual couples have.
However, Brindal stressed he is not attempting to legalise gay marriage, nor is he trying to undermine the institution of marriage or the church.
Instead it is an attempt to address a glaring omission in the area of equality for all people, he said. It is an attempt at making Australia a fairer society in the future. It is an attempt at a -˜fair go’ for all Australians.
If the legislation is passed South Australia would become the second state to have such a scheme following the start of Tasmania’s partnership registry in January this year.
This is a step in the right direction by South Australia and Mark Brindal, Australian Marriage Equality spokesperson Luke Gahan said.
Same-sex couples need recognition of their relationships, and civil unions in South Australia will certainly make some difference.
But it’s unlikely the state Labor government will entertain debate on Brindal’s bill while its own Relationships Bill is pending before parliament, South Australian LGBT rights campaigner Matthew Loader believes.
The Relationships Bill ex-pands the definition of de facto to include same-sex couples.
Even though the state government is committed to investigating the implementation of a registered partnerships scheme in SA, it probably does not want to confuse debate on its current legislation -“ or, indeed, be shown up by a Liberal maverick’s bill, Loader said.
Gay rights activist Rodney Croome said he’s buoyant about Brindal’s bill, even though he thinks it doesn’t have much chance of becoming law.
It sends out the dual message that civil unions are on the agenda and that there can be an Australian pro-LGBT conservative human rights agenda, Croome said.
While Brindal is certain the draft bill will generate much debate in the community, he’s hopeful of winning the support of the South Australian parliament. He has already received positive feedback from fellow parliamentarians, judges and clergy.
Interestingly, Andrew Evans from the Family First Party said he’s not against this bill necessarily, but he is against the fact it discriminates in favour of gays, Brindal said. He said he’d be much more in favour of the bill if it recognised other inter-dependent couples, such as a son caring for his father, or two straight women living together.
Brindal is willing to consider making such amendments to his bill before presenting it to parliament.