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Friday, January 23, 2015

Removal of ceremony dampens gay unions

GAY registered relationships have fallen steadily since the Liberal National Party took away “the party” from civil unions in Queensland.

Formal same-sex relationship registrations have fallen two-thirds in the three years since the Newman government announced snap changes watering down civil unions by scrapping state-sanctioned ceremonies.

In 2012, when civil unions were rushed through parliament by the former Bligh Labor government, 466 couples affirmed their relationships.

Following the Newman government changes in mid-2012, another 138 homosexual couples formalised their relationships.

In 2013, 227 gay couples registered their relationship. Last year, that had dropped to 184. To January 13 this year, four relationships were registered.

Throughout the period, 4677 heterosexual couples have also registered their relationships.

An LNP spokesman said the government had “no plans” to amend registered-relationship laws or to make any changes regarding other social issues, including surrogacy and euthanasia.

“Our focus is growing the economy, boosting jobs and providing the services Queenslanders need,” he said.

Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has reiterated her vow to reverse the LNP’s 2012 changes to civil unions and reinstate the previous provisions.

“This means that commitment ceremonies will be reintroduced,” she told The Australian.

“Both same-sex and de facto couples will still be able to register their relationships.” Ms Palaszczuk also committed to maintaining laws on altruistic surrogacy and no euthanasia.

Despite Premier Campbell Newman’s personal support for gay marriage in the lead-up to the 2012 election, the government changed Queensland law to remove ceremonies as “provisions that may be perceived to mimic marriage”.

It was a compromise position. During the campaign, Mr Newman vowed to explore repealing civil unions entirely, but noted concern not to throw into “legal limbo” the couples who had already signed up for the partnerships.

Queensland’s civil-union laws are now in line with NSW and Victoria in having no official ceremonial recognition. Couples in the ACT and Tasmania can opt for a ceremony.

The legislative changes followed lobbying from the Australian Family Association during the election campaign and a private meeting between Mr Newman and the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, the day before the legislation was introduced.


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