Friction between politicians over gay marriage

WHETHER gay marriage should be allowed in Queensland has left a parliamentary committee at odds.

The deadlock occurred although 27 of 29 written submissions to the inquiry supported restoring same-sex couples' rights to an official civil ceremony while having their relationship registered.

The committee report tabled to parliament on November 17 said it could not agree on the Palaszczuk government's election commitment on civil partnerships.

In 2012, the Newman government overturned Labor's civil partnership act which allowed couples the chance to hold a state-sanctioned ceremony.

When she introduced the new bill in September, Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath described the Newman government's move as a petty ideological attack.

If the bill goes ahead, a married same-sex couple would also be registered as a "civil partnership", rather than the LNP-implemented "registered relationship".

The committee report said support for the amendments had been motivated by equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people.

Those opposing the bill argued that a state's only legitimate interest in registering relationships was in relation to marriage because it was for the benefit of children and that civil partnership ceremonies mimic marriage.

Submissions came from parents of gay and lesbian people, individuals directly affected, civil celebrants, advocacy organisations and legal services.

The religious community was divided in its views, with one group saying it did not affect churches or other religious groups' rights to celebrate marriage according to their own beliefs.

But FamilyVoice argued there was no social benefit to be gained from civil unions.

The committee said unequal recognition of relationships for same-sex couples was seen as a significant contributing factor to poor mental health.

Research suggests that the rate of suicide for LGBT people is 3.5-14 times higher than the general population.

Family lawyer Stephen Page told the committee that registered relationships and civil partnerships saved taxpayers money if there was litigation between a couple that had separated.

"Quite frequently there is litigation between couples as to whether or not they are in a relationship," he said.

"Having a registered relationship or a civil partnership - and certainly I prefer a civil partnership because of the ceremonial aspect of it - is essential because if the couple have done that then there is no dispute that they are in a de facto relationship and they might save, in the process - I do not know - $100,000 and $30,000 of Commonwealth taxpayers' money."

The bill will be debated in parliament.

- APN NEWSDESK



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