Queensland’s civil unions under threat
EXCLUSIVE: In the first sign that Queensland’s recently enacted civil union laws are under threat from the new LNP Government, notaries wishing to perform same-sex civil unions have been left in the dark as to what is happening with their applications to the Queensland department of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Applications opened April 2, 2012, but since then no word has been given their fate, with little new information given on the Queensland Government website.
With what looks to be the first step to repeal the controversial bill passed by the previous Labor government, there has been no word on the powers used to put a hold on applications. Currently more than 350 couples have taken the steps to register their relationships through the bill.
When contacted recently, Births, Deaths and Marriages informed Queensland Pride that all Civil Partnership Notary applications were being held until further notice.
In response to the concerns raised, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie repeated to Queensland Pride prior comments attributed to Premier Campbell Newman about only acting against the legislation if people were not left in “legal limbo”.
“During the State election campaign, the LNP committed to repealing the Civil Partnership Act provided it didn’t leave people in legal limbo,” Bleijie said.
“The Newman Government has sought advice from the Department on that election commitment and will consider the options once that advice is provided.”
Dr Sharon Dane, an academic at University of Queensland as well state spokesperson for Australian Marriage Equality (AME), told Queensland Pride the moves could be a sign the LNP won’t support any kind of same-sex partnership recognition.
“The Coalition has made it clear that, as a party, they do not support same-sex marriage, however, taking away the opportunity to legally validate and celebrate same-sex relationships in general suggests that their opposition has little to do with marriage per se,” Dane said.
“Should the placing of a hold on the Civil Notary applications be true, then it appears that they are against any form of respect and social validation being bestowed upon committed relationships between people of the same sex.”
Dane said conservative arguments against civil unions as being a precursor to same-sex marriage held little weight.
“Countries around the world, including US states, are now extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in the absence of civil unions,” she added.
“Should the Coalition be taking the first steps to repeal Queensland civil partnerships, it simply suggests that they either have no concept of the extreme hurt that same-sex couples will experience as a result or they simply don’t care.”
LGBTI-specialist psychologist Paul Martin, from the Centre for Human Potential, told Queensland Pride that removing the civil union legislation will be damaging for many gay and lesbian Queenslanders.
“I spoke to an officer at Births Deaths and Marriages who said that she had seen countless couples who were joyous at having their relationships finally recognised by the State,” Martin said.
“There is much evidence to demonstrate that the mental health same sex attracted people is significantly improved when their relationships are seen as valid and valued through actions such as enacting civil union legislation.
“If the civil union legislation is repealed, this will no doubt lead to psychological damage for many people in our communities who are already vulnerable.”
There is currently a petition on Change.org asking the LNP not to revoke civil partnerships for Queenslanders.