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New Bid To Pass Gay Partnership Bill In Australian Capital Territory
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: December 12, 2006  9:00 pm ET 

(Canberra) The government in the territorial district that includes Australia's capital Canberra has begun a new attempt to give same-sex couples many of the rights of opposite-sex married couples.

The Australian Capital Territory government has filed a bill that would legalize civil partnerships.  Last year the government passed a similar bill only to see the federal government quash it claiming the measure contravened Australia's ban on same-sex marriage. (story)

This time the government hopes revisions to the original bill will be acceptable to the government of Prime Minister John Howard.

The major change replaces the word union with partnership. The new bill also drops a comparison of civil partnerships to marriage.

"The Government is fully committed to this legislation," said ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell in introducing the bill.

"The Government does not accept that it is somehow satisfactory to discriminate against one part of society and so it is introducing this legislation here today. 

But Corbell also said that the ACT government won't proceed with a vote until it gets a legal opinion from his federal counterpart.

"We will look at it. I've noted that there have been some changes but I want to reflect upon the totality of the issues before I give a considered view," is all Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock would say about the legislation.

After Ruddock's government moved to overturn the first bill the Federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission began an investigation into inequities faced by same-sex couples. (story)

Last week the South Australia state parliament passed legislation granting same-sex couples most of the state rights accorded to opposite-sex married couples. (story)

Public opinion has been slowly shifting in favor of recognizing same-sex relationships and Prime Minister John Howard 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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