A GAY couple celebrating their 21-year relationship has become the first pair to make a civil union declaration under Queensland’s new laws.

Civil unions for same-sex couples were officially restored in Queensland on March 22, after a three-year absence following it being stripped back under the former Newman LNP government. The Relationships (Civil Partnerships) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2015 passed easily through Queensland Parliament 64 votes to 22 on December 3.

Jamie Kerr and his partner Stephen Thompson were surprised at the reaction to their civil partnership ceremony last Saturday – which was the first performed under Queensland’s new laws.

“We’re surprised that our relationship has caused comments on the whole (with) positive feedback on both sides of the media,” Mr Kerr told the Star Observer.

“Of course the trolling happened but (it was) 99 per cent positive.”

Mr Kerr said they decided to do the civil union ceremony as a way to celebrate their 21 years together.

“Andy Warhol said that everyone has 15 minutes of fame – I guess this is ours,” he said.

“After the reception we went home and fed the dog.”

A spokesperson from the office of Attorney General Yvette D’Ath said registering in a civil union provides a same-sex couple with proof and recognition of their relationship under Queensland law.

“This partnership means public legal recognition of our relationship, we understand it is not full marriage equality but it is important to us.” Mr Kerr said.

Jamie Kerr and Stephen Thompson. Picture: Supplied

Jamie Kerr and Stephen Thompson. Picture: Supplied

Although civil unions in other Australian states are recognised, the Queensland legislation may need to be updated so it acknowledges civil partnerships from other states.

For example, overseas civil unions registered in New Zealand, the US or UK have no auto-recognition in Queensland. There is no ability for Queensland law to recognise another country’s documents, they require registration.

“Stephen and I decided we would do the civil partnership union thing here and when full marriage equality comes in, we will just upgrade it,Mr Kerr told the Brisbane Times.

The spokesperson from the office of Attorney General also said that on the first day of civil partnerships, March 22, no one applied.

“In relation to the Civil Partnership ceremony, Birth Death and Marriages has received three applications of which two are pending and has registered 92 civil partnership registrations,” the spokesperson said.

According to the Attorney General’s office, currently the basic procedure allows new Queensland couples two ways to register their civil union. This includes making a civil partnership declaration and then having the relationship registered by the state Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages, or by applying to the registrar to register their relationship without making the declaration.

Before the declaration, the couple must give notice of their intention to enter into a civil partnership to a civil notary and the registrar, should the latter not be the civil notary.

Until Australia recognises civil unions at a federal level, a Queensland civil partnership is only legally valid in Queensland and the other Australian states recognising it.

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