The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) acknowledges the recent passage of the Relationships Register Bill by the NSW Parliament. This legislation provides same-sex and heterosexual couples with some determinative relationship recognition.
By registering your relationship under the new scheme, couples will be granted de facto status and corresponding rights under most state laws.
The GLRL is pleased that the registry scheme does not require cohabitation as an eligibility requirement.
Some laws, however, will still require that couples have proof of cohabitation to be considered as de facto.
However, it is disappointing that there will be no provisions for ceremonies. The GLRL believes denying couples a ceremonial option during the registration turns what is a celebration of a couple’s commitment into a mere administrative exercise.
A relationship registry scheme is also not absolutely necessary because same-sex de facto relationships have been recognised since the passing of the Property (Relationships) Amendment Act 1999.
The GLRL believes there are other areas of law in NSW much more in need of urgent attention and reform.
The NSW Government continues to discriminate against some children living in same-sex families by denying them rights, benefits and entitlements conferred through legal parentage.
The Adoption Act still uses pre-1999 definitions of couple, de facto relationship and spouse and is the last piece of legislation that directly discriminates against same-sex couples and their families. These definitions preclude same-sex couples from being eligible to apply to adopt children in their long-term care.
There is also no transfer of parentage scheme to allow surrogate mothers and their partners to relinquish their parenting rights in favour of the intended parents.
The GLRL strongly urges the NSW Government to act in the best interests of children and reform adoption and surrogacy laws.