Southern Australia approves domestic partners legislation

Gay rights advocates celebrate

Anthony Cuesta | December 11, 2006

SYDNEY — A landmark South Australian gay rights bill passed the upper house of parliament on the final sitting day of the year Thursday, reports the Sydney Star-Observer.

The long-awaited Domestic Partners Bill passed the upper house by 16 to 3, amid cheers by MPs, reports the Star-Observer.

The law will come into force in early 2007, giving gay and lesbian couples financial, inheritance and other rights.

Until the bill’s passage South Australia was the only state or territory to not recognize same-sex couples in legislation.

Gay Labor upper house member Ian Hunter told the parliamentary debate this week of being denied rights despite being in a same-sex relationship for about 15 years.

“We have grown accustomed to being in a second class relationship where we have no legal rights,” Hunter said, reports the Star-Observer. “This bill is a step in the right direction – a big, bold step – but by no means the last. Same-sex couples still have many campaigns ahead before they are treated as truly equal in the law."

According to Australia’s Online news source News.com.au, the laws dispense with the term "de facto" and categorize couples as domestic partners. That means same-sex couples and any two people who live together now would be covered by the law.

Let's Get Equal Campaigner and retired secondary teacher Ian Purcell was ecstatic the legislation had passed.

"We've campaigned for six years on this," he said to News.com.au. "Equal rights is everyone's right."

Until its passage last night, activists had feared the gay rights bill would fail to pass parliament for the third year running. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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