Since Thursday, gay couples in Queensland, Australia have able to register for civil unions. For the first time, the state legally recognises same-sex relationships, some decades old. But if, as the polls predict, the Liberal National Party (LNP) win the state election in less than a month, those rights could be taken away.
The leader of the LNP in Queensland Campbell Newman said at a forum for the Australian Christian Lobby yesterday that if his party won the election on they would look into repealing the law that allows civil unions in the state, and would certainly not support gay marriage. Polls predict that Newman will win the election against current premier, Australia Labor Party’s Anna Bligh on 24 March.
Radio station ABC Queensland reported Newman’s comments, which said that he and his candidates across the state were against gay marriage and if voted into government he would look into reversing civil union rights for same-sex couples.
ABC Queensland asked Family Law Practitioners Association Queensland President Debra Awyzio if it would be legally possible to repeal the civil union law in the state. ‘Yes it would be possible,’ she said. ‘When a government comes in they can make whatever laws they want to and if he decides to repeal the legislation that's certainly a step that he can take.’
When asked how this would affect same-sex couples who managed to be joined in civil union before the election on 24 March, Awyzio said: 'It would mean that the previous status that they received as civil partners would be revoked and their rights would be effected.'
When questioned by reporters this morning, Newman stood by his comments but he didn't want to leave those already in civil unions 'in legal limbo'.
'My position has not changed,' Newman said, as reported in the Courier Mail. 'We will look at repealing it. If we can, if we get into government, we will repeal it but that may not be possible and we don't wish to leave people in legal limbo.'
Online comments on the story on the ABC Radio website suggest his statements won't be a vote winner for Newman: 'Well that settles it,' said Kathy Krik. 'I will not vote for someone as narrow-minded as Campbell Newman. I have a gay child who deserves every right that is afforded to other Australians and I will not vote for any party that discriminates against my child.'
Last year, Advocate reported that Campbell Newman said he was pro-marriage equality, but would not push for it in his state because he didn’t think the issue had enough public support.