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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1755 ..

relationships. It will help ensure that our citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation, are shown the dignity and respect to which they are entitled. I also believe it will put the spotlight on other jurisdictions to introduce similar schemes and it will pressure the Tasmanian and Victorian governments to go that step further with their legislation and to allow ceremonies.

I commend the bill to the Assembly. Even in its modified form, it is better and it is a step forward from where we are now. I hope that this legal recognition will prompt more people in same-sex relationships to come forward proudly into our community. Finally, I wish all of those couples who choose to formalise their relationships under this new law long and happy lives together. I know that their commitment will be recognised and warmly embraced by the ACT Labor government and by the vast majority of their fellow Canberrans. I thank all those who have stuck around tonight to be part of this debate.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (1.36 am): It is sad and it is a pity that we are standing here tonight on what should be a celebratory occasion, but in fact it has a little bit of a feeling of a wake. There is no doubt that this whole experience tells us again what we already know and what we do not need to be told over and over again, which is that sexuality and reproduction will always be the markers by which ideologies separate themselves in our polities.

I want to reiterate something that I learned and that many women learn, I think, in their practical lives but which I learned from my research, and that is that these kinds of debates are never really about ethics; they are never really about religion; they are in fact about power and politics, often disguising themselves as religion; that they are generally asserting power over the bodies of women and sexual minorities; and that these are often easy targets in our society because they are not groups that generally hold the power to actually take control of their own lives as they want. And that is what we have learned yet again.

So it is with great reluctance that I announce a qualified support for the highly qualified ACT government’s Civil Partnerships Bill 2006, as it will be amended after tonight. Unfortunately, due to intervention by successive federal governments, the bill has lost a lot along the way. Gays and lesbians continue to face unnecessary discrimination in our society. There was a chance that things were going to move there; there was a genuine commitment from the Stanhope government. I want to see the ACT government’s original Civil Unions Bill passed in this place without any intervention by the federal government.

I was disappointed by the announcement that our new federal Labor government was unwilling to support the legislation in its previous form. Not so long ago we had the Prime Minister’s assurance that he would never interfere with ACT matters. ACT people have a right to feel let down and angry.

It is worth noting the petition tabled today that calls on the ACT government to pass the Civil Partnerships Bill that includes legal recognition of ceremonies. Within only four days of the announcement that the ceremonial recognition would not go forward, the petition has been tabled, with an incredible 711 signatures. Such is the outrage.

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