Lawmakers in Queensland, Australia voted overwhelmingly in support of restoring the state’s civil unions scheme.
This scheme not only creates a legal relationship but also allows for an official ceremony, such as a marriage.
You may remember that the state actually had civil unions back in 2008, under the Labor government of Premier Anna Bligh. However, these were dumped by Liberal National Premier Campbell Newman in 2012 in order to appease the conservatives in his party.
Now, the Queensland MPs voted 64 to 22 to restore the civil unions scheme, with 21 of these votes crossing the floor to vote with the government’s MPs.
As a result of this resounding show of support, any unmarried couple in Queensland can enter into a civil union. However, since straight couples could already marry, this is more of a victory for people in the LGBT community.
Queensland is now the second Australian state to allow civil unions, the other state being Australian Capital Territory, which is essentially their version of Washington, D.C.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had previously promised the LGBT community that she would restore the civil unions scheme if she won office and also announced that her Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath would introduce a bill for it in September.
When speaking to parliament, Annastacia had this to say: “It’s time to inject some maturity and some dignity into the marriage debate. It’s time to again allow heterosexual couples who might want to affirm their relationship but not take the step of actually getting married the right to do so.”
“It’s also time – once again – to allow same sex couples that same right … These ceremonies and the symbolism they represent are important, particularly to people in same-sex relationships.”
National director of Australian Marriage Equality, Rodney Croome, also showed support: “I welcome the Queensland government’s Civil Partnership law because it will provide same-sex couples with greater legal certainty. But civil partnerships are not a substitute for equality in marriage for same-sex couples.”
“Marriage is a universally recognized institution that guarantees equal respect and equal rights in a way civil partnerships cannot. The Queensland government’s initiative reflects the desire of a majority of Australians to provide dignity where it is denied in the Federal Marriage Act, and will increase pressure on the federal government to provide that dignity through marriage equality.”
As we all know, same-sex marriage is currently banned in Australia, plebiscite on the issue is scheduled for after the next federal election.