Queensland is a step closer to becoming the first Australian state to provide civil unions for same-sex couples after the Queensland State Parliament voted 46 to 30 that the bill be read a first time.

The bill will now go to the Parliament’s Health and Disabilities Committee.

The civil unions bill goes further than the scheme currently operating in the ACT in that it will allow same-sex couples to have a declaration or ceremony to legally recognise their relationship.

Celebrants will be able to apply in writing to the Registar-General to become a civil-partnership notary to perform such ceremonies.

Other Queensland laws would be amended to also include the term ‘civil partner’ where ‘spouse’ may now appear.

A civil partnership would be terminated by one of the parties making an application to the District Court.

Attempts to include a ceremonial aspect in the ACT’s civil unions schemes lead to several vetoes by the Howard and Rudd governments however the Commonwealth has no power to veto state laws.

The Star Observer understands that Queensland Labor expects to have the bill passed into law before Christmas this year.

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