A landmark South Australian gay rights bill passed the upper house of parliament on the final sitting day of the year last night.The long-awaited Domestic Partners Bill passed the upper house by 16 votes to three, amid cheers by MPs.The law will come into force in early 2007, giving gay and lesbian couples financial, inheritance and other rights.Until the bill’s passage South Australia was the only state or territory to not recognise same-sex couples in legislation.Gay Labor upper house member Ian Hunter told the parliamentary debate this week of being denied rights despite being in a same-sex relationship for about 15 years.We have grown accustomed to being in a second class relationship where we have no legal rights, Hunter said.This bill is a step in the right direction -“ a big, bold step -“ but by no means the last.Same sex couples still have many campaigns ahead before they are treated as truly equal in the law.Activists had feared the gay rights bill could fail to pass parliament for the third year running.

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