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Queensland government reduces same-sex couples’ rights

Queensland government reduces same-sex couples’ rights

The Queensland government further angered the LGBT community last night by downgrading civil union partnerships to ‘registered relationships’ and announcing a change in surrogacy law so that it will only be available to heterosexual couples.

Changes to the civil union law were passed at 12.25am today after five hours of debate and an interruption by protestors who chanted ‘shame, bigot, shame’.

The right of same-sex couples to form civil union partnerships in Queensland was brought in just weeks before the socially conservative Liberal National Party [LNP] was voted in this March.

Premier Campbell Newman had threatened before the election to repeal the Civil Union Act altogether, under pressure from Australian Christian Lobby.

Newman told Brisbane Times that the fact that same-sex partnerships can still be recognized as registered relationships, without a state-sanctioned ceremony, ‘shows that we’re prepared to reach a sensible compromise that retains rights’.

Others complained the change in the law meant that registering a same-sex partnership was little different than registering a pet. ‘I marry (or wed) my beloved. I register my dog,’ someone wrote on Twitter, as reported by AAP.

Surrogacy for heterosexual couples only

Also during last night’s debate, attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie announced that the government planned to repeal the 2010 Surrogacy Act so that single people and same-sex couples were no longer eligible for altruistic surrogacy (where a woman carries a baby for another couple with no payment).

The changes would mean this option for having children would only be available to heterosexual couples who have been together for longer than two years.

Queensland Council of Civil Liberties president Michael Cope told AAP that the Newman government was violating the principle of equal treatment regardless of sexuality.

‘We are concerned the government is kowtowing at this early stage to the more right wing elements of the LNP,’ Cope said. ‘This raises concerns about what they’re going to do to rights in the future.’

The Brisbane Times reported that Newman said before the March 2012 election that the LNP would not change surrogacy law.

Last month over two thousand Queenslanders marched in protest about threats to civil union law and a $2.5million (Australian dollars, $2.46million,€1.92million) cut in funding to the state’s only dedicated LGBT  health organization, Queensland Association of Healthy Communities (QAHC).

‘The stripping away of our rights and services adds to the social exclusion already felt by many LGBT people,’ said president of QAHC Mark Morein.

‘With the removal of all health services for LGBT people, watering down of civil partnerships to a mere registration system and now the announcement that same-sex surrogacy is to go, people are worried about what will be next.’