Page 1651 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2006

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a 16 or 17-year-old person in a same-sex relationship being able to approach the court for an order that would subvert the will of their parents, that would permit them to enter into an enduring domestic relationship, but you have no quibble with a heterosexual 16 or 17-year-old young person going to the very same court, to the very same magistrate, to seek the very same order.

Mr Stefaniak: This is an 18-year-old in a relationship.

MR STANHOPE: No, we are talking here about a 16 or 17-year-old. An 18-year-old does not have to go to the court, but you differentiate. Even now, at the end of this debate, you use this as your concluding concern: you differentiate, you distinguish, between the rights of a 17-year-old person who wishes to enter into an enduring domestic relationship—on the one hand, a civil union; on the other hand, a marriage. You have no issue with a 17-year-old person going to the Children’s Court when they cannot get their parents’ permission or approval to marry; yet it is horrendous—the world will end, the sky will fall in—if a 17-year-old in a same-sex relationship seeks exactly the same relief in exactly the same court before exactly the same magistrate. You stand there and think that you can justify this differential position. You simply cannot.

I conclude on this point: Mr Stefaniak and each of you have expressed some shock and horror that we would contemplate, and through this legislation permit, same-sex couples from elsewhere in Australia to celebrate a civil union in the ACT—as if there is something shocking around the fact that we would not reject a same-sex couple who came here, to our home, to our city, to celebrate their civil union here with us.

I will give you one example on this, Mr Stefaniak. I believe you have two children. Say it transpires that one of your children is homosexual and your other child is heterosexual. They each leave home and travel to another city, as many of our children do. They choose or decide, like loyal children, that when they enter into their life partnership they would like to share their joy with their parents and they choose Canberra, their home, to do so. Most of our children do. They go away. They go to university. They meet up with people. It is most frustrating, particularly if they whip off overseas. But many of them do not; they live away.

But children will, for the sake of their parents, come home to celebrate their marriages—and, after today, to celebrate their civil unions. And you, for your homosexual child, will stand at the border and say, “Do not come here to celebrate your civil union,” but to your heterosexual child you will say, “Welcome home for your marriage.” How do you justify that, Mr Stefaniak? How do you justify the stance that you have just taken, which would exclude your homosexual child from celebrating a civil union in Canberra, your child’s home, whilst welcoming with open arms your heterosexual child for their marriage?

I say that, without wishing to be personal, just to illustrate the very difficult position you present in the context of equality, non-discrimination, tolerance, acceptance and expression of love that I hope we all wish to express to those that enter into a relationship of whatever description, whether it be a civil union, a marriage or otherwise. It illustrates absolutely the nonsense of your position and the inherent flaw in your argument or suggestion that you are not discriminating and do not wish to discriminate. On the basis of your own analysis and your own position, you would be prepared to discriminate against a homosexual child of your own.

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