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Australian City To Launch Gay Partner Registry
by Newscenter Staff

November 17, 2006 - 9:00 pm ET

(Melbourne, Australia) Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, is set to create a domestic partner registry for same-sex couples.  The plan was put forward by openly gay Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer and endorsed by Lord Mayor John So.

The registry would be largely symbolic but in a country which has outlawed same-sex marriage the symbolism is important to gay and lesbian couples. In 2004 the federal government passed a law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"This register will provide evidence of a relationship," said Singer. "It doesn't have the legal status of marriage but it does provide some evidentiary basis in court for gay and lesbian couples."

The registry would be a first for the state of Victoria and is based on one created in 2002 in Sydney.

The announcement came only days after the state of South Australia announced legislation creating a domestic partner registry that will provide many of the rights of marriage.  

Under the Domestic Partners Bill, introduced in the state Parliament on Tuesday (story), any two people who live together as a couple will be covered. It also would allow siblings or other couplings to register.

Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said that he expects the bill will have little difficulty in passing.  The opposition parties have announced their backing for the bill.

The legislation would allow same and opposite-sex couples to register and be able to share financial affairs, make medical and funeral arrangements for one another.

Earlier this year the Australian Capital Territory passed legislation giving same-sex couples most of the rights of marriage (story) but the bill was overturned by the federal government.

Atkinson said that he did not expect his bill would meet opposition from the federal government because it recognizes the relationships between all types of interdependent couples.

Following the rejection of the ACT legislation the federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission began an investigation into inequities faced by same-sex couples. The commission has been holding hearings across the country. (story)

Public opinion has been slowly shifting in favor of recognizing same-sex relationships and Prime Minister John Howard now has suggested his government may look at ways of granting limited recognition to same-sex couples. But Howard said he has no intention of repealing the ban on gay marriage.

� 2006


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