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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1718 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

there is no sustainable reason to automatically exclude a particular group of people, the non-heterosexual group, from being considered as adoptive parents.

Applications for adoption are often made by people who already have a parental role in the life of the child and to deny the parties the right to formalise that relationship simply on the grounds of sexuality is unjustifiable discrimination.

The Government will be including amendments to address these issues in its legislative package.

There are other matters identified in the Government Report that the Government intends to consider in more detail over the longer term.

The issue of providing for registered relationships or civil unions is a complex matter that requires further and more extensive investigation than was possible within the timeframe required by the Legislative Assembly for delivery of the Government Report.

This is one of the matters on which I have requested the Department of Justice and Community Safety to develop a more detailed position paper for further consideration by the Government.

Issues that must be considered include:

�what the purpose of registration might be-for example, will registration give the same status as marriage for the purposes of all ACT legislation;

�qualifications for using the process-the age of the parties, whether it should be available only to same sex couples, whether it should be available only to ACT residents;

�legal effects of registering a relationship, including how such a registration can be terminated and the effects of termination;

�constitutional issues about the ability of the ACT to enact legislation for civil unions;

�administrative issues about how the registration process should be carried out and how the records of registered relationships should be maintained.

The issue of how legislation takes account of matters of sex and gender is similarly complex and the Government's view is that they should be addressed as a discrete project.

Again, I have requested that a more detailed position paper on these matters be developed for further consideration.

In the process of preparing the paper legislative provisions that require people to be identified as either male or female will need to be examined. Each provision will have to be considered to determine whether or not that identification is necessary.

The question of how "male"and "female"should be defined for the purposes of particular legislation will also need to be considered.

An assumption that all people can be classified as either male or female is deeply embedded in much of our legislation and cannot be altered hurriedly.

It will also be important to consider similar law reform that has been undertaken in other jurisdictions in order to assess its effect.

In this context further consideration will need to be given to the issue raised by some of the submissions of whether a transgender person should have to undergo surgery in order to be considered to be a person of the gender with which they identify.

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