Page 3429 - Week 11 - Thursday, 19 September 2013

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Thursday, 19 September 2013

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Marriage Equality Bill 2013

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (10.02): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Madam Speaker, this bill is about equality. It is a bill which says people in a same-sex relationship are able to have their love and commitment to each other legally recognised in the same way that people in a heterosexual relationship are able to through a legally recognised marriage.

This Labor government has consistently advocated and acted to remove discrimination and establish equality before the law for all people in our city, regardless of their sexual orientation. In 2003 and 2004, we amended the territory statute book to remove discrimination against gay and lesbian people in the areas of parentage, IVF access and adoption. In 2006 we enacted Australia’s first civil unions, making civil unions between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples legally equivalent to marriage. This law was overturned by the then federal government. In 2007 the government attempted to legislate for a civil partnerships law, which was eventually passed in a modified form in 2008. In 2009 the Civil Partnerships Act was amended to provide for legally binding ceremonies and authorised celebrants, elements which the then federal government had previously objected to. And in 2012 the Civil Unions Act was passed to reinstate the full provisions of a civil unions scheme which had been originally disallowed in 2006.

In October last year, as part of Labor’s election policy platform, we committed to legislate for same-sex marriage. In June this year, the government agreed to continue its human rights and legislative reform program with the drafting of a new law for full marriage equality in the territory, and it is that bill that I present this morning.

This Labor government’s commitment to reform, equality and fairness is enduring; enduring because it is underpinned by the principal belief that human rights are central to a civilised, fair and just society the legal recognition of a relationship through marriage is not denied to hundreds and hundreds of couples in our city living together in loving and committed relationships simply because of their sexuality.

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