Well-known gay rights advocate Rodney Croome has labelled High Court Justice Michael Kirby confused over comments the latter made likening same-sex relationship registries to a dog or busker’s licence.

In a speech made last week at the John Marsden Memorial Lecture, Kirby said relationship measures lag behind in current law reforms in Parliament and even civil unions are, it seems, a bridge too far.

Croome said registries in the ACT, Tasmania (and soon Victoria) provide same-sex couples with the legal status of a relationship, exactly the same way as a birth, a death or a marriage.

He was, I believe, unnecessarily demeaning of relationship registries by saying that registering a relationship is like registering a dog or a busker. That’s simply incorrect, Croome said.

It’s not equivalent to the registration of dogs, either in a legal sense or a social and cultural sense.

Croome went on to say equality in marriage is part of the overall fight for relationship reform.

I share with Michael Kirby a deep disappointment that same-sex couples aren’t allowed to marry in Australia and indignation at our national leaders, because they can’t come to terms with that issue, but I don’t take that anger, disappointment out on relationship registries, because they were never designed as a substitute for equal marriage, he said.

I’ve always made it completely clear that one form of recognition is not enough … but neither do I believe that we should only have equal marriage and not other forms of recognition. There should be that choice available to those people who want to avail themselves of those choices.

Australian Marriage Equality national secretary, Alex Greenwich said he supported Kirby’s speech.

I agree with him completely … it’s insulting, he said.

I understand what Rodney is saying and there is certainly an argument that registries are the start of something encouraging … but it’s a matter of having the option which is something we don’t have.

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