The Tasmanian Upper House began debating the proposed Relationships Bill yesterday, a bill that if passed would provide parenting rights for same-sex couples and a registration system for newly enfranchised couples.

Activist Rodney Croome told Sydney Star Observer yesterday the bill was likely to pass, although it was still too early to predict a result.

Several members have spoken this morning [Wednesday] and the speeches have been very positive, Croome said, as spokesperson for the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group (TGLRG). I’m still reticent to say what will happen because anything could change -¦ but at the moment it looks fairly likely that the bill will get passed.

The Relationships Bill features about 130 reforms of laws that currently discriminate against gay men and lesbians in Tasmania. The Bill being debated is a modified version of the TGLRG’s proposed bill, with the exception of rights for general placement adoption.

The government took that out, much to our great frustration, Croome said. But what is in the legislation in terms of parenting rights is Known Child Adoption or step-parent adoption, and presumptive parenthood for the female partners of women who conceive through fertilisation treatment procedures.

At the time of going to print, speakers had not opposed the registration scheme, and the presumptive parenthood clause was the subject of the greatest controversy and opposition, according to Croome. The clause would grant automatic parenting rights to the female partners of lesbian mums-to-be.

It’s possible that the presumptive motherhood section -¦ will be taken out, he said. If that is taken out, then we’d call for that to be sent to a parliamentary committee to be discussed -¦

Even if that section is left out it will still be the most progressive relationship reform in Australia and certainly internationally at the cutting edge, Croome said.

The debate continues today.

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