The federal Opposition has softened its position on the Rudd Government’s equality reforms, which now include federal recognition of state and territory registered relationships and same-sex child support.

But new Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull is yet to show his hand on these developments.

Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis told the Sydney Star Observer the Liberals would continue to push for recognition of non-conjugal interdependent relationships, but would not block the current reforms if the interdependency model fails to win support.

We’re going to pass this bill, the senator said. Our position on this bill, as with all the bills in this reform, is that this should have been done years ago.

Costello tried to have it done but that was stopped -¦ those people are no longer in the parliament.

Despite the Liberal backbench dissidence revealed following the first of the inquiry reports, Brandis said his party was united in its support for the removal of discrimination against same-sex couples, their children, and interdependent relationships.

State and territory registered relationships would be recognised federally under the Government’s latest bill, which passed through the lower house yesterday, renewing pressure on NSW Labor to introduce a register.

However, gay and lesbian lobbyists are unhappy couples would be treated simply as de facto, with no consideration for the affirmation and declaration same-sex couples have made about their relationship.

We feel it’s inappropriate to label a registered relationship as a de facto partner, the umbrella de facto partner should be changed to partner of a couple relationship, Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Corey Irlam said.

Secondly, we feel the Federal Government should recognise international formalised relationship schemes by removing the limitation to -˜state or territory’.

The Senate inquiries have been dominated by the Rudd Government’s use of the term product of a relationship to refer to children, and concern that step-children might not be recognised.

However, the Rudd Government has already conceded it made a mistake and has circulated an amendment that includes child support payments to children of separating same-sex couples.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she expected the final report to recommend a new, more inclusive definition for children in a relationship.

These developments show committees and the Greens on the cross-bench are effective in reviewing legislation and making improvements. I would hope the Government would continue to work this cooperatively, she said.

New opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull was not present for the resumed debate on the same-sex forums in Parliament this week and came under attack for failing to make his position known on the latest reforms.

Recently demoted Liberal backbencher Bronwyn Bishop repeated her earlier condemnation of the reforms for undermining marriage and encouraging polygamy, despite her party’s unified support.

See also: Turnbull’s absence causes ire

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