Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer Andrew Fraser has called on the Queensland Opposition to allow its members a conscience vote on a bill to legalise civil unions under state law.

Queensland currently has no state-wide relationship recognition scheme for same-sex couples, making it difficult for couples to prove their relationship in emergencies.

Fraser, a supporter of same-sex marriage under federal law, told the Parliament he intends to introduce the bill today.

“Despite the wishes or ignorance of some – whether blissful or baleful – humans have been loving each other in many different ways for centuries. What has changed is society’s recognition of the breadth of human relationships,” Fraser said.

“Marriage has long been elevated amongst all other relationships in our society and its sanctity is held dear to many. But beyond the traditional legal recognition of the union of a man and a wife in the Christian tradition, others have been involved in human relationships of companionship and devotion that are not able to be accommodated as a marriage under the laws of this nation.

“More recently parliaments – this one included – have undertaken legislative projects to recognise the fact of human relationships between two women, and two men, as equal in law as to the fact of relationships between men and women. ”

Fraser then called on the Opposition to allow a free vote.

“I recognise that for each MP, as indeed for each person we represent in this place, that this will be a matter for their conscience, through their own conceptions of human rights, and their moral, ethical and faith-based convictions.

“I implore the hierarchy of the Opposition to recognise this and provide for individuals to be given a vote of their own free will … We should – in a civil society – not live a fiction through our laws. Our laws should accept the truth of human relationships.”

Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) leader Campbell Newman is on the record as a supporter of same-sex marriage, but he has not indicated whether he will allow his colleagues a free vote on Fraser’s private member’s bill.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has also today posted a video on YouTube outlining her support for the civil unions bill.

Debate on the bill is expected to begin on the bill at around 7.30 tonight.

A live feed from inside the Parliament can be found at www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/broadcast

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