Thursday, November 26, 2009

Australia Won't Quash Gay Unions

In a surprise move Australia's Attorney General Robert McClelland said that the federal government would not overturn laws allowing the first same-sex civil unions in Australian Capital Territory.

AFP reports:
(Sydney, Australia) Attorney General Robert McClelland said the government had decided not to intervene after the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) agreed to minor changes to its gay union laws requiring couples to register before a ceremony. The national government has twice quashed the ACT's attempts to instigate legally recognised same-sex unions on the grounds that Australia's marriage law says weddings must be between a man and a woman.

'The discussions between the Australian government and the ACT government about the Civil Partnerships Act were conducted in good faith, and the matter has been resolved satisfactorily,' Mr McClelland's office said in a statement. Mr McClelland, of the ruling centre-left Labor party, overturned a similar bid in February 2008, after an earlier attempt was halted in 2006.

ACT attorney-general Simon Corbell said it was a decisive step for the gay rights movement in Australia, and set an important precedent. 'This now opens the door for other states and territories to follow the ACT's lead knowing the Commonwealth accepts ceremonies are now a legal part of the equation,' he said.