Queensland federal Coalition Party MP Warren Entsch will introduce a bill legalising civil unions for all Australian couples – but not before a vote has been had on same-sex marriage in the parliament.
Entsch told ABC’s the 7.30 report on Tuesday night he did not believe there were the numbers to pass a same-sex marriage bill in the current parliament and that civil unions would be helpful to same-sex couples, and opposite sex couples who wished to register their relationships but did not want to marry.
“I don’t believe it will [pass],” Entsch said, referring to same-sex marriage, “I really don’t, and this is from talking to members from all sides of politics.”
Entsch had previously said that he did not support same-sex marriage because it would take the spotlight away from other LGBTI issues such as the needs of older LGBTIs and reforms needed by the transgender and intersex communities.
Entsch and a group of senior Liberals have been touting their support for civil unions since the report back session by MPs last August in response to a motion put forward by Greens MP Adam Bandt.
Marriage equality advocates said they respected Entsch’s record of being an advocate for LGBTI rights within the federal Coalition, but said that civil unions would not deliver the equality that same-sex couples in Australia needed.
“Mr Entsch’s intention may be to do what he can for our community, but the result will be the creation of a second class scheme most couples already have access to through state laws,” Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national convenor Alex Greenwich said.
Greenwich said that if the ALP backed civil unions over marriage it would damage efforts to win supporters back from the Greens.
“We hope Labor will stick to their new pro-marriage equality policy,” Greenwich said.
“If they were to back the legislated discrimination of civil unions it would give the Greens a clear point of differentiation in the inner-city seats where they gain ground at every election. The world has moved passed civil unions and Australians have opened their hearts to marriage equality.”