The debate on same s-x relationships keeps bubbling along in this election year — and while there have been more spectacular dishes cooked up in the kitchen, the Australian Christian Lobby stirred the pot on Tuesday when it offered “qualified acceptance” for a proposed relationships register in Victoria.

The ACL has good access to the Prime Minister. Its statement “offered cautious acceptance for a Victorian state relationships register on the condition that it is the same as the Tasmanian system and in no ways mimics marriage”. While it restates the ACL’s opposition to “same s-x civil unions or partnerships which mimic marriage” it adds: “We are not opposed, however, to the removal of unreasonable discrimination for same s-x couples, such as that which limits an individual’s ability to allocate their own finance and property.”

That’s OK for the ACL — but seems to be a stumbling block for some state Labor governments. While, no doubt, most Labor MPs would use the quaint old phrase “social progressives” to describe their views, they appear to be held back by influential conservative Catholic trade unions, particularly the Shoppies.

Pressure is building on them, however, to act. The issue is extremely important to thousands of same s-x couples nationwide. While they enjoy limited de facto rights, it is often difficult, expensive and time-consuming to prove that their relationships are bona fide. This difficulty can cause great distress in times of emergency.

These people deserve certainty in their lives. The laws can give it to them. Such a move cannot be radical if it has the support of the ACL.

There seems to be an overwhelming justice in creating relationships registers such as in Tasmania and the one proposed in Victoria so that same s-x couples can prove their relationships exist. And it will be interesting to see how this informs the Federal Government’s thinking on the issue. That seems to have stopped altogether of late. Do they want to lose Wentworth?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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