South Australian activists are optimistic a long-awaited gay equality bill will become law by the middle of the year after the Labor Party’s resounding win in state elections last Saturday.
Matthew Loader, from South Australian lobby group Let’s Get Equal, said the delayed Statutes Amendment (Relationships) Bill could pass parliament as early as July, with the majority Labor government’s support.
We’ve got a written commitment from the Labor Party that they will reintroduce the bill in the first session of the parliament after the election, Loader told Sydney Star Observer.
We would fully expect that the legislation should be able to proceed fairly expeditiously in the next session of parliament.
The legislation would grant same-sex couples equality in most areas of law, making South Australia the last state or territory to provide at least some legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships.
The bill passed the upper house last year, but the lower house ran out of time to debate it before the year’s final parliamentary session ended.
Activists accused the bill’s conservative opponents of using stalling tactics, but are more hopeful about the new parliamentary term.
What we’re also hoping is that the government might take the opportunity that it has now to improve some aspects of the legislation or alternatively to address them through other means, Loader said.
Let’s Get Equal will ask premier Mike Rann’s government to investigate civil unions, adoption and access to reproductive technology for gay men and lesbians. None of these rights is included in the current equality bill.
The South Australian Labor government is likely to include an openly gay man, Ian Hunter, who is set to take an upper house seat after Saturday’s vote, subject to final counting.
Meantime in Tasmania, the Greens have criticised the grubby tactics they say marred the lead-up to last Saturday’s state elections, also won by Labor.
As the Star reported last week, the Tasmanian Liberal Party circulated flyers attacking the Greens’ support for same-sex marriage as socially destructive. Separate newspaper advertisements placed by a local farmer targeted the Greens’ pro-transgender policies.
Tasmanian Greens leader Peg Putt said small groups and major political parties ran a smear campaign against her party, which saw its vote drop, ABC News reported.
We have had the might of big business, unions, Labor and Liberal and more, all directed against us, Putt said.
The anti-Greens advertisements and the Liberal Party flyer prompted transgender activist Martine Delaney to seek an injunction from the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.
The Commissioner refused the request last Friday, but Delaney is still hoping to secure a ruling that the material incited hatred and ridicule.
She will learn within six weeks if the Commissioner will take up her claim.