A week after it emerged the prime minister would look into removing some discrimination against same-sex couples, the government announced it did not support giving same-sex couples access to the Family Court. Nor was it likely to allow new civil union legislation in the ACT.
The comments on the Family Court came after Western Australian attorney-general, Jim McGinty, urged the federal government to allow de facto couples, including same-sex couples, the same access to the court as married couples to resolve disputes.
WA is the only state with its own family court and allows heterosexual and same-sex couples access to resolve property disputes. All other states fall under the jurisdiction of the national Family Court.
Gay partners should be able to access the [federal] Family Court to resolve their property disputes when their relationships break down the same as any other de facto couple, McGinty said.
He said the federal government was long overdue to accept its responsibility and amend the Family Law Act to give all couples access.
But federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock said same-sex couples would not be recognised and that the government’s position was widely supported.
If you ask the community as a whole whether they saw same-sex relationships as the equivalent of marriage, I’m sure the answer would be no, he told ABC Radio.
Also this week ACT attorney-general, Simon Corbell, pledged to introduce a new version of the civil union legislation.
But Liberal senator Guy Barnett -“ the man credited with convincing the prime minister to ban gay marriage in 2004 -“ said there was little chance of the commonwealth allowing the legislation.
Barnett said that while he supported current federal moves to get rid of discrimination against same-sex couples, he would strongly oppose the ACT legislation if it mimicked marriage.
Marriage is sacrosanct. It’s not something to be fiddled with and not a fashion to be updated, he said, The Age reported.
Last week Sydney Star Observer reported the prime minister had agreed to look into removing discrimination against same-sex couples from select areas of federal law, such as Medicare, public sector superannuation and veteran’s entitlements.