Gay and lesbian couples in Victoria and the ACT could soon formalise their relationship with a certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, but NSW will again miss out.
NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos has confirmed he will defy federal Labor’s commitment to nationally consistent registries made in April.
“There are no plans to introduce a registry in NSW or consider civil unions,” a spokeswoman for Hatzistergos said.
Tasmania already has a registry that includes same-sex couples, and Victoria introduced a similar model on Tuesday.
Victoria’s Deputy Premier Rob Hull insisted the register did not amount to gay marriage or civil unions, but would ensure same-sex couples smoother access to entitlements.
The register will be debated next year and, like the Tasmanian scheme, would only be available to residents of the state.
In the ACT, Attorney-General Simon Corbell has moved to reintroduce civil partnership legislation that would be available for couples regardless of residency, but would not impact on entitlements outside the territory.
The Howard government scuttled the territory’s plans in 2006 because it was too “marriage-like”, but Corbell did not believe the new Rudd Government would intervene.
It is believed the new civil union laws would not include an official ceremony or witnesses.
New federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland won’t comment on the legislation until he meets with Corbell. He will meet with department advisors this week about federal Labor’s promises for same-sex couples.
While selling the registry policy to the gay and lesbian community, Senator Joe Ludwig said he was confident all states and territories would come around to supporting the registries.
Hatzistergos was the sole state attorney-general to vote against the registries at Labor’s national conference in April, but this week declined to tell SSO what was wrong with the national Labor policy.
The Victorian and Tasmanian gay and lesbian rights lobbies have been strong campaigners for registries, but the NSW Lobby has not.
NSW GLRL co-convenor Peter Johnson said efforts would be best spent on the Federal Government to encourage a nationwide system that included entitlements at both state and federal level.
The Lobby released a report earlier this year that said the community wanted the option to choose between de facto, civil unions and marriage.
“Some form of relationship recognition is better than none, but the community has said they prefer civil unions or marriage, but if they can get a state-based relationship registry across all of the states and such a registry would provide similar rights as civil unions then we’d have to reassess it,” Lobby co-convenor Emily Gray said.
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