Civil Partnership Bill passed by Queensland government

Date: Dec 01, 2011

Queensland is the latest state to join a growing number of governments that have passed legislation that supports the rights of same-sex partners.

At 23:10 on November 30, the Civil Partnership Bill was passed through parliament with a vote of 47 for and 40 against.

The legislation was introduced by Queensland's deputy premier Andrew Fraser and paves the way for same-sex partners to have their relationship officially recognised.

In the opening section of the Civil Partnership Act 2011, as it is now known, part two helps to lay out the conditions a couple has to meet in order for their status to become legal.

It states: "A civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship that, subject to this Act, may be entered into by any 2 adults, regardless of their sex."

The legislation goes on to say that a mandatory "cooling off" period of no less than ten days applies as soon as the adequate documentation has been tabled with the registrar.

Speaking on the successful passing of the bill, Queensland premier Anna Bligh said that it was "fundamentally a debate about human rights".

Bligh said: "The bill that is before the parliament is a bill that seeks to strike a blow against prejudice and strike a blow against discrimination."

Andrew Fraser was quick to inform the public that the new changes will not come into full effect until 2012 and that couples who were looking to gain a civil union may need to exercise patience.

Fraser said: "The bill will now receive assent by the governor in the next couple of weeks and then a date has to be fixed early in the new year for when the bill commences.

"So it'll be a couple of months away once the process has gone through."

Partners who are considering applying for a civil partnership certificate may wish to make use of this time to discuss their options with a family lawyer.

Speaking on the new legislation, spokesman for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance in Cairns Nick Thompson said that it would make proving the existence of a formal relationship much easier for same sex couples.

"For example if your loved one is very ill in hospital, at times it can be very difficult to establish the fact that you're in a relationship with them, regardless of de facto status," said Thompson.

"By having a formal certificate or even just being able to say 'I'm their civil partner' will negate any questioning."

However, it is still a good idea for all parties to seek sound family law advice before any legal union is entered into.