A SUNSHINE Coast LGBTI rights advocate is accusing two local state Liberal National MPs of lying to him over their stances regarding civil unions and state-sanctioned ceremonies, an issue that is once again on the Queensland political landscape.
Noosa resident Robin Bristow has said his local state MP Glen Elmes and Maroochydore state LNP MP Fiona Simpson both directly told him that they were in favour of civil unions, with Elmes apparently stating he was willing to cross the floor to vote with Labor.
[showads ad=MREC]The Palaszczuk Labor government recently introduced legislation to introduce civil unions and state-sanctioned ceremonies that were previously brought in by the Bligh Labor government in 2011 but stripped back by the Newman LNP government in 2012.
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg has ruled out any support for Labor’s legislation, citing there were greater priorities for Queenslanders such as jobs and that current “registered relationships” – what the LNP stripped civil unions back to in 2012 – were sufficient enough for recognition of same-sex relationships.
Critics have attacked registered relationships as being on par with registering a boat or a pet.
According to Bristow, he met with Elmes in May to discuss the government’s planned re-introduction of civil unions.
“When we discussed the upcoming Labor legislation he said to me ‘[he] supported civil unions’. I asked him if he would cross the floor to vote in favour and he said ‘yes’,” Bristow told the Star Observer.
Speaking to local media, Elmes appeared to confirm what he had told Bristow.
“In the intervening period of time, my community expectations and my view on it has changed somewhat,” Elmes told the Sunshine Coast Daily.
“Depending on the wording of the new legislation (being introduced in Parliament today) and everything being equal I would support civil unions.”
Elmes reclaimed his seat of Noosa during the January state election despite an almost 17 per cent swing to the Greens and two-party preferred result of 41.4 per cent.
However, when contacted by the Star Observer for comment, his office referred to Elmes possibly being “misquoted” by the media.
Despite repeated attempts to contact Elmes for clarification, no further comment has been provided.
“If this true then I am afraid this will be another Glen Elmes lie and broken promise,” Bristow said.
“He is the most useless state member of parliament – always promising and not delivering, preferring fence sitting to real action. He is no friend of the gay and lesbian residents of his district.”
Bristow is similarly accusing MP Fiona Simpson in the neighbouring electorate of Maroochydore of lying to him following an encounter between the two.
Simpson is no stranger to controversy involving the LGBTI community after comments she made in 2002 in support of gay “reparative therapy”, where she said homosexuals could “grow into heterosexuality”.
Her previous comments were raised during the encounter with Bristow.
“At the end of the discussion Fiona said that ‘she did not support gay marriage but did support civil unions’,” Bristow said.
“Unfortunately I did not question her further on that matter.”
However, after responding to the Star Observer’s requests for comment, Simpson stated she was in favour of registered relationships.
“I note that in recent days with the tabling of legislation by the Palasczcuk Labor government there has been some public commentary about legalising civil unions in Queensland which has been based on a misconception that they weren’t currently legal,” she told the Star Observer.
“It is important to remember that civil partnerships or registered relationships remain legal in Queensland for any couples wishing to enter such an arrangement.
“Those in registered relationships enjoy all the legal rights required to protect and assist those involved in the relationship and nothing under the current law prevents the relationship being celebrated with a ceremony chosen by the couple.”
Simpson denied she had stated any other position on civil unions: “I support existing laws which is consistent with any conversations I’ve had with people on this topic.”
Bristow believes the two MPs have been two-faced on the issue.
“I think Fiona and Glen have been caught out as they wanted to appear sympathetic to gays and lesbians when challenged directly in public but now it looks like they have to retract their stance in case of falling fowl of their rabidly conservative party,” he said.
“It is obvious the LNP has not learnt from their mistakes and a repeating their habit of alienating the LGBTI community.
“Although civil unions are a second class form of legislation they are the best the states can do for equal rights for their gay and lesbian citizens. Well done on the Queensland government for keeping their promises.”[showads ad=FOOT]