South Sydney Council will open a register for same-sex and opposite-sex couples living in the area by the end of the year, if deputy mayor Peter Furness gets his way.

At a meeting on 25 June, Councillor Furness requested that council investigate the benefits of implementing a partnerships register, based on a model used by several UK municipalities, including London, Manchester and Brighton.

The register will provide evidence of a civil relationship and draw attention to the current failure of Australian law to equitably recognise the relationship of same-sex couples, Furness told Sydney Star Observer. A certificate issued as part of the registration process could assist couples seeking to prove their inter-dependency for immigration purposes, he suggested, adding that some London businesses were also accepting relationship registration certificates for the granting of spousal benefits to employees.

Furness said his proposal -“ which he said had in principle support from his Labor colleagues -“ would enable couples to register their partnerships with or without a form of ceremony.

Furness said he envisaged a charge of around $250 for the registration process -“ partly as a way for council to cover its costs, and partly because partnership registration should be viewed as something worthy of serious consideration and not something to be entered into lightly, he said.

Council is expected to run a series of community consultation forums before proceeding with the scheme.

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