By Jordan Hirst The Newman Government has shocked the LGBTI community by passing amendments to Queensland's civil partnership laws not only scrapping official ceremonies as previously announced but also renaming the unions "registered relationships," with a ban on same-sex surrogacy next on the agenda.
With less than three hours notice, more than 70 people gathered outside Parliament House at a protest rally organised by Equal Love Brisbane. Some protesters who delivered speeches at the rally voiced their anger that the changes "reduced their relationships to the status of dogs and guns."
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk told parliament the amendments were a "slap in the face" for same-sex couples.
"Queensland has come a long way and this parliament should not remove rights from decent Queenslanders whose only sin is that they are in a committed loving same-sex relationship and want to officially celebrate that relationship," she said. "What is it that fills the hearts of those opposite with such hatred and pettiness that they think it improves the lives of Queenslanders to deny a group within our community the right to, of all things, officially celebrate their love and commitment to each other?"
The laws, introduced by Bligh Government Treasurer Andrew Fraser last year, allowed couples of any sexual orientation to register their "civil partnership" and hold a state-sanctioned ceremony if they chose. The Newman Government announced on the 12 June that the law would be amended to remove the option of a ceremony, which had offended some as it "sought to emulate marriage," the Premier explained. The initial announcement received a mixed reaction from the LGBTI community.
"The state sanctioned ceremony has been perceived by many people in Queensland to mimic marriage," Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie said in his speech. "That is inappropriate, as a registered relationship under the act is not a marriage."
Protesters were allowed entry to the public gallery to view the heated debate on the proposed amendments in parliament, but were removed by security after interjecting several times and chanting "shame" in response to LNP members' comments.
ALP Member for Mackay Tim Mulherin told parliament why he believed the amendments were being "rushed through" with the bill being put to a vote 24 hours after its introduction, without a committee hearing.
"This issue is due to be discussed at the LNP conference in two weeks," he said. "They want to ensure that the bill is completed before that to avoid the embarrassment that would necessarily follow the debate at the conference. The debate would show ... the divisions between the Liberal and National parties and even between different camps within these two camps and show the LNP for the disunited rabble that it really is."
The Newman Government further inflamed the tense situation by choosing the same night to announce plans to make changes to surrogacy laws that would make it illegal for same-sex couples' to access altruistic surrogacy, a process whereby a woman agrees to bear a child for another person or couple for no financial gain.
"The Government will be changing the surrogacy laws in the future," Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie said towards the end of the debate. "We will be repealing the provisions in the Surrogacy Act that deal with same-sex couples, de factos of less than two years and singles."
A week before the March 24 election, Campbell Newman was quoted as saying the LNP "will not make changes" to the laws, though the LNP opposed the legislation in 2010.
Equal Love Brisbane will be holding a peaceful demonstration outside the LNP state conference in Brisbane on July 14.
By Jordan Hirst
The Newman Government has shocked the LGBTI community by passing amendments to Queensland's civil partnership laws not only scrapping official ceremonies as previously announced but also renaming the unions "registered relationships," with a ban on same-sex surrogacy next on the agenda.