Same-sex couples in Queensland will once again have access to civil unions, including state sanctioned ceremonies, after the Queensland Parliament voted 64 to 22 to reinstate civil partnerships.
First introduced in 2011 in the dying days of the Bligh Government, civil unions were quickly degraded to registered relationships with the option of having a ceremony removed by the then newly elected Newman Government in 2012.
The removal of social recognition and the de-valuing of the name led former High Court Judge Michael Kirby to describe relationship registration to be “rather like a dog or busker’s licence.”
Speaking ahead of the vote, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk gave a passionate speech to parliament about the importance of restoring civil unions for the LGBT community.
“One of the major reasons that I support this legislation, and one of the major reasons that I opposed the Newman government changes, was the positive effect it will have on younger lesbian, gay and bisexual people,” Palaszczuk said.
“These are the people who can struggle to come to terms with their sexuality, who may suffer associated depression and isolation. We as a parliament and we as a community cannot stand by and let that happen.
“By allowing all people in committed relationships to have the option of having their relationships recognised and celebrated, we reinforce the message that these are healthy and loving relationships. We reinforce acceptance. We celebrate our diversity.”
In an unlikely turn of events, the man who led the former LNP Government’s repeal of civil unions in 2012, Jarrod Bleijie today voted in favour to reinstate them and was one of the driving forces within his party to allow a conscience vote for his party members.
With a conscience vote granted, twenty out of the LNP’s 42 members voted in favour of restoring civil unions.
The new changes introduced today replace the term “registered relationship” with “civil partnership” and restore the ceremonies, which involve a couple making a prescribed declaration to each other in the presence of a registered civil partnership notary and a witness.
According to the legislation, “transitional provisions” in the bill “provide that registered relationships prior to commencement are taken to be civil partnerships.”
As at 4 November this year, 6,856 heterosexual couples and 1,227 same-sex couples had registered their relationships in Queensland.
The breakdown of the vote is as follows:
Yes: —Bailey, Barton, Bleijie, Boothman, Boyd, Brown, Butcher, Byrne, Cramp, Crandon, Crawford, D’Ath, Davis, Dick, Donaldson, Elmes, Emerson, Enoch, Farmer, Fentiman, Frecklington, Furner, Gilbert, Gordon, Grace, Harper, Hart, Hinchliffe, Howard, Jones, Kelly, King, Langbroek, Last, Lauga, Linard, Lynham, Madden, McArdle, McEachan, Miles, Miller, Minnikin, Molhoek, Nicholls, O’Rourke, Palaszczuk, Pearce, Pease, Pegg, Pitt, Pyne, Russo, Ryan, Saunders, Stewart, Stevens, Stuckey, Trad, Walker, Whiting, Williams. Tellers: de Brenni, Power
No: Bates, Bennett, Costigan, Cripps, Katter, Knuth, Krause, Leahy, Mander, McVeigh, Millar, Perrett, Powell, Robinson, Rowan, Simpson, Smith, Springborg, Watts, Weir. Tellers: Dickson, Rickuss
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