Monday, 22 August 2011

Australia: Cairns Regional Council to adopt 'alternative' to formalised gay marriage

Cairns Regional Council plans to launch a same-sex couple register to provide an alternative to marriage for gay, lesbian and transgender couples.
An alliance of local support groups is working with the council on the register as a way of providing official recognition of same-sex relationships.
Proponents say it would provide a sense of wellbeing for same-sex couples and provide a legal mechanism to make it easier for them to prove their relationship. Similar relationship registers already exist in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania on both a state and local government level.
Full report at Cairns News 

For Australia, this is more than just a feel-good symbolic gesture. Although there is no formal legal recognition of same-sex marriages or civil unions, the legal system does offer de facto equality of treatment to same-sex couples - if they can demonstrate that a genuine partnership exists. Therein lies the difficulty, of course. I know from personal experience the value of a paper trail in demonstrating such a partnership. When my partner and I left South Africa in 2003, I was able to get a UK ancestry visa on the strength of my partner' ancestry: but to do so, we had to gather as much documentary evidence as we could to substantiate that our relationship was genuine and well-established. The Australian partnership registries, in Cairns and elsewhere, do not in themselves bring direct, tangible benefits, but they do open doors to claiming benefits as a de facto partnership,

They are also a symptom of the growing push towards gay marriage in Australia - and probably contribute to the national feeling of inevitability on the issue.

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