South Australia might finally fix its discriminatory legislation, with a bill granting equal rights to same-sex partners gaining momentum in the state’s Legislative Council.

The Statutes Amendment (Relationships) Bill aims to make same-sex relationships equal to de facto heterosexual ones in most areas of law. The bill has been delayed for more than a year.

South Australia used to be at the forefront of gay rights, SA lobby group Let’s Get Equal spokesperson Matthew Loader said.

Now we are the last state to give equal rights to same-sex couples, falling behind the rest of the country -“ South Australia is the weakest link.

The bill has been held up by the introduction of a series of amendments, some intended to delay its progress.

Loader said supporters of the state’s gay and lesbian community had sent MLCs hundreds of emails in recent weeks, urging them to get on with the debate before the last three sitting weeks of parliament ran out.

Liberal MLCs have been allowed a conscience vote on the bill.

Family First MLC Andrew Evans claimed during the debate that most gay men maintained six or seven relationships at once, and most gay relationships lasted just 18 months.

At the time of printing, the state’s upper house had carried half of the amendments necessary to make the bill successful. After its passage through the upper house, the bill would have to be heard successfully through the lower house.

Loader said he was confident there was still time to get the bill through both houses of parliament in the next two weeks.

It will be tight, he said.

We are hopeful that this can happen very soon -“ we certainly have the momentum on our side at the moment and we think there is strong support for the bill in the lower house.

The bill will fix 90 acts of South Australian parliament, including inheritance laws, guardianship laws and property rights. It does not include adoption or access to reproductive technologies.

Ideally both these acts should be amended, Loader said. We have a strong pink parents lobby here and we hope to fix it as soon as possible.

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