South Sydney Council moved one step closer to establishing a partnerships register for same-sex and other de facto couples with the release of an internal committee report late last week.

The report released by council’s Community Service Committee recommends support for the establishment of the register, following additional research and community consultation.

South Sydney Council deputy mayor Peter Furness told the Star council’s plans hope to meet the deep-seated desire of many same-sex couples for relationship recognition and may lead to gradual law reforms at other levels of government.

Someone has to take the first step and South Sydney council has in other areas and I suspect our efforts will trigger reforms on a wider scale. There is currently legislation before the Tasmanian Parliament which could result in the establishment of a similar register, so there are already moves in other states, Cr Furness said.

However, Furness added council needs to be careful not to exaggerate the consequences of the register so people aren’t under any false pretences.

In theory it won’t have any legal might because it won’t amend the law but there will definitely be consequences as a result. Private employers may use such registers to impose spousal benefits, and we will probably see reforms in regards to immigration issues.

The report states that the register’s purpose is to provide evidence of a civil relationship and highlight the failure of the law to equitably recognise the partnership status of same-sex couples.

The council’s plans are modelled after similar registers established in the United Kingdom by the Greater London Authority and Manchester City Council.

South Sydney Council will formally debate the issue on 13 August with the possibility of a register being established as early as mid-September.

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