A key proposal from the Australia 2020 Summit that civil unions be offered to same-sex couples has been officially rejected by the Rudd Government.
The Government’s response equated the proposal with same-sex marriage equality, saying the no gay unions policy -œreflects the widely held view in the community that marriage is between a man and a woman.
But the Government confirmed it still intends to recognise and support same-sex families through its community and social inclusion strategies, and convince NSW, QLD, SA, WA and NT to implement relationship registers.
-œOne step towards eliminating discrimination against same-sex couples is for their relationships to be legally recognised, the response states.
-œAs part of the Government’s same-sex law reforms, registered relationships will also be recognised in many Commonwealth laws to provide a more consistent approach to the recognition of relationships.
National PFLAG spokeswoman Shelley Argent was a part of the summit branch that recommended civil unions.
-œRegardless of what type of relationship recognition it is, we need uniformity across the country so the confusion is taken away when a couple go from one state to another, Argent told Southern Star. -œBut we’re being totally ignored by the [Queensland] Bligh Government.
Australian Marriage Equality advocates disputed the Government’s claim that marriage discrimination was strongly supported.
-œOpinion polls consistently show that a majority of Australians support same-sex marriage, making a nonsense of the Government’s stated belief that its policy -˜reflects a widely held view in the community’, AME spokesman Peter Furness said.
-œThe Rudd Government has shown that its vision for the future is blinkered by prejudices from the past.
Coalition for Equality spokesman Corey Irlam said there were some positives aspects to the Government’s response, such as support for gay and lesbian families.
Human rights advocates including Amnesty International were disappointed that there will be no non-discriminatory clause in the Australian Constitution, a proposal that had received wide support at the summit so it could be enforceable by the High Court.
The Government rejected that idea also, saying the National Human Rights Consultation had been charged to come up with a non-constitutional proposal, such as a human rights act or charter.
-œ… [T]he Government has made it clear that any proposals must preserve the sovereignty of Parliament, its report stated.