Supporters of same-sex marriage, civil unions and sexuality anti-discrimination laws will be competing with the nuclear power debate for focus on the last day of the ALP National Conference in Sydney this Saturday.

The latest draft policy in circulation renews the call for state-based relationship registers that don’t mimic marriage or undermine existing laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The draft also supports anti-discrimination legislation on the basis of sexuality and gender identity, but does not give a clear commitment to federal laws.

Equality advocates are hoping more voices of support will be heard this weekend after the Tasmanian Labor Party endorsed marriage equality at its state conference on Sunday.

This decision will send a strong message to the upcoming ALP National Conference and the Rudd Government to support equality in marriage for same-sex partners, Tasmanian gay rights advocate Rodney Croome said.

Clearly the grass roots of the Labor Party has heard the message that a majority of Australians support marriage equality for same-sex couples, even if the Party’s federal leadership is lagging behind.

The Tasmanian endorsement, moved by Young Labor, was a small but important victory for Rainbow Labor, the cross-factional caucus of GLBTI Labor members.

However, they do not expect the 400 delegates from around Australia will vote to overturn the current policy opposing same-sex marriage.

Tasmania sends just 23 delegates to the periodic conference dominated by factional warriors and union officials from NSW, Victoria and Queensland. Young Labor has just three delegates; Rainbow Labor will have none.

Just two years ago the debate on same-sex relationship recognition was split between a vocal minority advocating no support and a majority endorsing statebased relationship register. Not a single speaker supported marriage equality at the 2007 conference.

Ahead of the 2009 conference, dozens of Labor figures now publicly support same-sex marriage including Victorian minister Bronwyn Pike, the entire ACT Government, Young Labor, and many more backbenchers in state and federal parliaments not bound by government gags.

It is expected those states that still have not implemented the existing relationship register policy will be the strongest voices in favour of keeping it.

Later on Saturday the delegates will vote to retain the formal recognition of minority networks for women, indigenous and youth members.

info: Sydney Star Observer will have reporters inside the conference during the debate and outside during the protests. For information as it happens visit

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