Page 5746 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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When the first Civil Partnerships Amendment Bill was introduced in 2009 by the Greens, the government moved amendments to ensure that the Civil Partnerships Act would not be inconsistent with the Marriage Act. Acting on legal advice, the government amended paragraph 6A(b) so that it applies only to couples who may not marry—that is, it applies only to couples who are in a same-sex relationship. That was necessary because to confer on marriageable couples the right to the civil partnership ceremony would have created an inconsistency between our act and the commonwealth Marriage Act.

Therefore, whilst I note the committee’s somewhat technical observation, it cannot be said to have given a right to only some of the people that the territory could give it to, as to confer such a right on people who may marry is, of course, beyond the power of the Assembly. If there is any trespassing on people’s rights and liberties, it is the fundamentally discriminatory nature of the Marriage Act that does that. I just draw that matter to the attention of members.

Fundamentally, and in conclusion, there is more work to be done. Labor in the territory will maintain its commitment to reform in this area. It is a commitment that is grounded in our respect for fundamental and inviolable human rights. That is what drives the reform. If we are serious about the Human Rights Act—if we are serious about those rights—this is the logical extension when it comes to the issue of recognising the rights of gay and lesbian people in our community.

I accept and I acknowledge that not everybody agrees that these changes should occur. But I also believe very strongly that we do not walk away from the opportunity to advance the cause of equality for same-sex couples in our city and that we do not walk away from the opportunity for ceremonies or legal recognition of them or for legally sanctioned officials to conduct those ceremonies. That is the advance that we lock in today with these amendments. We do so, as the Chief Minister has observed, with the imprimatur of the commonwealth. And, as Mr Barr has observed, there is now the opportunity for other jurisdictions to do so. Indeed, there is little excuse for other jurisdictions not to proceed in a similar fashion. I thank members for their support of the bill and I commend it to the Assembly.

Question put:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 10

Noes 5

Mr Barr

Mr Hargreaves

Mr Coe

Ms Bresnan

Ms Hunter

Mr Doszpot

Ms Burch

Ms Le Couteur

Mrs Dunne

Mr Corbell

Mr Rattenbury

Mr Hanson

Ms Gallagher

Mr Stanhope

Mr Smyth

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

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