The council of the City of Melbourne this week voted not to introduce its own partnership register for same-sex couples.

The vote on Tuesday night came five days after deputy lord mayor Gary Singer, who is openly gay, announced the council was looking into starting a register scheme similar to the City of Sydney’s.

The council resolved instead to write to the Victorian state government to encourage it to introduce its own relationship register, which the Bracks government is currently looking into.

Singer hoped to raise the issue within council again in the next few weeks, he told Sydney Star Observer.

Council registers don’t give couples any legal rights and are largely symbolic, but could help gay and lesbian couples show proof they were in a relationship.

A state government register, like the one being considered by Victoria, would most likely give couples similar legal rights to those of marriage.

The City of Sydney’s Relationships Declaration Program had so far not proved popular, with a spokesperson saying only 30 same-sex couples and four opposite sex couples had signed up in the last two years.

This figure was much lower than the council had anticipated, the spokesperson said.

South Sydney Council started the first council-based register in Australia in 2004. When that council was absorbed by the City of Sydney a few months later, lord mayor Clover Moore adopted the scheme.

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