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Australian Lawmaker's Civil Unions Bill Appears Doomed 
by Peter Hacker, Sydney, Australia Bureau

March 19, 2006 - 12:01 am ET

(Melbourne, Australia) A private members bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to have civil partnerships in Victoria state will likely never see the light of day after the government shunned the measure.

The legislation was proposed last week by Andrew Olexander, a member of the state legislature's upper house. (story)

After days of silence on the issue Premier Steve Bracks said that the government would not allow the parliamentary counsel to draft the bill. 

The bill still could be prepared by outside counsel, but Bracks said that that government would not allow the measure to come to a vote.

The opposition Liberals are not anxious to see the bill either.  

Asked if his party would support the measure Opposition Leader Robert Doyle would say only "no comment".

Olexander said Saturday that issue is not over.

"I am disappointed … but it is by no means the end of the initiative," he said.

The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby said it hopes to see legislation introduced sometime next year.

Even if legislation were to pass it would not include any of the federal rights of marriage.

In 2004 the Australian government passed legislation defining marriage as between a man and a woman (story) and Prime Minister John Howard has refused to consider national civil union legislation.

© 2006

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