QUEENSLAND is set to once again legislate for Civil Unions and allow for state-sanctioned ceremonies following the introduction of a Civil Partnerships Bill by Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath in state parliament later today.
Speaking to the bill this morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government would seek to restore equality to all couples in Queensland.
[showads ad=MREC]The former incarnation of Civil Unions in Queensland – legislated by the former Bligh Labor Government in 2011 – was stripped back to a “Relationships Register” as one of the first acts of the Newman Liberal-National Government in the following year.
“This morning the Attorney-General will introduce a bill to restore the right of any Queensland couple – of any gender, of any sexual orientation – to once again hold legal ceremonies to enter civil partnerships,” Palaszczuk told parliament.
“It’s time to inject some maturity and some dignity into the marriage debate. It’s time to again allow heterosexual couples who might want to affirm their relationship but not take the step of actually getting married the right to do so.
“It’s also time – once again – to allow same sex couples that same right.”
An important part of the former Civil Unions legislation in Queensland was its allowance for state-sanctioned ceremonies, which no other state in Australia has, and something that was removed by the Newman Government.
“My government is committed to restoring the civil partnership ceremony provisions so couples of any gender can participate in an official ceremony and declare their dedication to each other,” Palaszczuk said.
“These ceremonies and the symbolism they represent are important, particularly to people in same sex relationships.
“My government is committed to equality. My government is committed to fairness. Today we deliver on those commitments with this Bill which restores the very important right to couples who want to declare their commitment legally.”
Praise was swift for the government’s decision, namely from Queensland LGBTI rights advocate and PFLAG Australia president Shelley Argent.
“As National Spokesperson for parents with same sex attracted sons and daughters, as a Queenslander and mother of a gay male, I recognise today is an exciting day for many people,” Argent said.
“With the continued uncertainty surrounding marriage equality in this country, I say congratulations to Annastacia Palaszczuk, Yvette D’Ath and the Labor Government for keeping their promise to have Civil Partnerships reintroduced into Queensland.
“This step will lift the self esteem of the LGBT community here in Queensland. LGBT and their families recognise their government cares about their rights.
“Our sons and daughters rights should not be a political game played at the whim of leaders who don’t necessarily put their words into actions when given the opportunity.”
Debate on the bill will begin in October and looks set to pass despite Queensland having a hung parliament, with the likely support of two cross-benchers, Cook state independent MP Billy Gordon and Speaker Peter Wellington.
“This bill when passed (before Christmas) will ensure Next of Kin rights in times of emergency will be upheld and validate the relationship in law whenever it may come into question,” Argent said.
Speaking to the Star Observer, Argent said Queensland’s action on once again formally recognise Civil Unions will put pressure on the Federal Parliament to move on marriage equality.
“I think it will play a role, that’s for sure but we know how all MP’s and PM’s can justify minimum action,” she said.
“I feel it also shows the Federal Government up because Queensland, the supposedly most conservative state, is doing something positive. So it does say, ‘if they can, surely, we can’ but that again is only if anyone from Canberra is listening.”
Argent said that the spotlight would now be on Malcolm Turnbull to keep true to his commitment to marriage equality and once again be the active advocate he was prior to his ascension to the Prime Ministership.
“Regarding Anastacia and her team, it does show governments can keep their promises if they want,” Argent said.
“Malcolm knows that it’s easier to passively stand by as a supporter but I am not sure if he is aware it’s morally wrong to do nothing when in a position of power.
“He could lift the esteem of millions of Australians and their families, be a true Leader and be ensured of being PM for as long as he wants.”[showads ad=FOOT]