Victorian gay and lesbian activists are divided about Independent MP Andrew Olexander’s Civil Unions Bill, with one group working to force it onto the election agenda, the other working to keep it off.

Civil Unions Action (CUA) favours an aggressive campaign, while the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is seeking to approach the issue slowly.

Olexander’s bill was adjourned by the government and opposition last week. With only two sitting days remaining before the November election, it’s now effectively dead.

The Labor government has strenuously avoided taking a position on the civil unions issue by saying that the issue was not on the government’s agenda.

This is despite known support for civil unions from deputy leader John Thwaites and attorney-general Rod Hulls.

But a spokesperson from activist group Civil Unions Action said it would try to force a public statement on civil unions from premier Steve Bracks.

Spokesperson John Kloprogge said if the premier persisted in ignoring the Civil Unions Bill, protest actions would follow in the lead-up to 4 October (the next possible date for debate), and all the way to the election.

We will conduct a series of headline-grabbing actions to get the Labor government to make a public commitment to civil unions, which will get more vigorous as the election approaches, using any means we can, he said.

The Labor Party needed to make a stand either way, he said.

They think they can carry the evangelical suburban right wing while taking the inner city gay vote for granted, but how can you satisfy two communities when one aims to strip the other of all their rights?

Kloprogge also encouraged all other community groups to support the CUA’s Will You Commit? campaign.

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) spokesperson Gerard Brody said the VGLRL supported any measure by any politician or party to bring in civil unions in Victoria, but Olexander’s bill had come along too late for proper debate and consultation.

Brody said the VGLRL’s ultimate objective was to get Labor to bring in its own civil unions bill, but the group was focused in the short term on getting any politicians or parties that would support civil unions elected.

There’s a great possibility for Labor to win the next election, that’s where we’re putting all our work in, contributing to them bringing in a civil unions bill soon after the election, he said.

He admitted the Lobby was disappointed with the Victorian Labor government’s lack of commitment to civil unions.

We were looking forward to something like that about the time of the National Day of Action, which didn’t eventuate, but we are very positive and we are still working with the government to ensure that something will be done next year, he said.

John Kloprogge says such hints won’t be enough to keep the gay vote on side.

-“ Melbourne Star

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