More than three years after being repealed by Campbell Newman's Liberal National Party (LNP) government, civil partnerships have returned to Queensland with some LNP support.
The Relationships (Civil Partnerships) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2015 was passed by Queensland state Parliament yesterday afternoon in a vote of 64-22, with former state Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie (who originally repealed civil unions) among the 20 LNP MPs who voted in favour of the bill.
Civil unions were first implemented in Queensland during the dying days of Anna Bligh's Labor government in 2012. Former premier Campbell Newman prioritised their rollback in his first 100 days of government, replacing them with a relationship register and cancelling state-sanctioned same-sex ceremonies.
It was one of a number of measures that affected the LGBTI community in the early days of Newman government, which also stripped nearly $2.6 million in funding from the state's only gay health service, and pledged to deny same-sex couples and singles the right to access altruistic (non-commercial) surrogacy - which was never achieved.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the passage of the Civil Partnerships Bill would pave the way for same-sex couples to have their partnership publicly recognised.
“I am proud to reinstate civil partnerships – restoring equality and fairness for all Queenslanders,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“When it comes to the most important relationship in our lives, language and rituals are important. The changes in terminology in this Act restores the dignity and the respect that all of our loving relationships deserve, regardless of gender and sexuality.”
D'Ath said the decision by the previous government to repeal civil partnership ceremonies caused deep hurt in Queensland.
“I would like to make it clear to all Queensland couples, irrespective of gender, that this is your home and your state, and your relationships are valid and worthy of recognition and respect," she said.
“We know there is more to acknowledging a relationship than assigning it a particular legal status or registration number. It is about making a formal commitment to our significant other in front of our loved ones, and celebrating the love and value we bring to each other’s lives."
Mrs D’Ath said civil partnership ceremonies will commence following the development of forms and guidelines, and a register of people who can perform civil partnership ceremonies being made available on the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages website.