Victorian premier Steve Bracks is looking at introducing a Tasmanian-style partnership registration scheme for same-sex couples if he wins the upcoming state election.
Bracks sent two Labor MPs to discuss with the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby the possibility of bringing in the relationship recognition model.
Member for Prahran, Tony Lupton, confirmed the discussions had taken place.
The premier has asked me and my ALP colleague, Richard Wynne MP, to meet with the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby to discuss the value of a Tasmanian-style registration scheme in Victoria, Lupton said.
Rights Lobby co-convenor Gerard Brody said the issue had been discussed at a meeting with himself and fellow co-convenor Aly Muhammadally.
We’re continuing the dialogue to persuade the government we need some form of relationship recognition, Brody said.
They asked us to provide evidence of the difficulties people face because they don’t have a certificate or any other way of easily proving their relationship.
In the last few months Bracks has repeatedly stated he did not support civil unions for same-sex couples and that the issue was not on the government’s agenda.
Partnership registration, however, is considered by some conservatives to be a more appealing option because while it may provide all or nearly all of the same rights as marriage, it is not considered as similar to marriage as civil unions.
The Victorian development comes months after the ACT’s Jon Stanhope Labor government tried to introduce same-sex civil unions but was blocked by the commonwealth.
In May the Australian Christian Lobby came out in support of partnership registry instead of civil unions in the ACT, stating it would recognise same-sex relationships and caring relationships but is clearly not equated with marriage.
Some gay rights activists and politicians have criticised registration schemes, such as the one in Tasmania, as being inferior to civil unions because they don’t include a ceremony.
ACT attorney-general Simon Corbell recently suggested registering a relationship was demeaning.
You register in the same way you register a pet, he said.
Rodney Croome, spokesperson for the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, disagreed.
No ceremony, be it a civil union, a registry wedding, a three-hour high mass or a quick trip to the Elvis Chapel of Love, confers any legal status whatsoever, he said.
Only a registrar can do that and, in all of these examples, including registration in Tasmania, that process is exactly the same.
He said there was no reason a Victorian partnership registration scheme couldn’t include ceremonies, if that’s what people wanted.
Many couples in Tasmania held a private celebration after receiving their registration papers.
Under the Tasmanian scheme which arrived in 2003, couples who register their relationship are given the same legal recognition as marriage under state law.
The register is open to significant relationships -“ same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples -“ as well as caring relationships such as those between elderly sisters or a person caring for a handicapped relative.
The Tasmanian law eliminates any distinction between marriage, de facto, same-sex and non-conjugal unions by subsuming them into entirely new egalitarian categories like significant and caring relationships, Croome said.
It is not known whether a Victorian scheme would be only for same-sex couples or for all couples.
The Victorian election will be held on Saturday 25 November.
-” Melbourne Star. Additional reporting by Myles Wearring.