The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) is encouraged by the NSW Government announcement to introduce a state relationship register. While the GLRL believes this is a step towards greater relationship recognition for same-sex couples, it is not a substitute for full marriage equality.
Benjamin Keats, GLRL Co-Convenor, noted that, “A registration scheme for both heterosexual and same-sex couples provides a tangible and documented form of relationship recognition. However, it still lacks the symbolic and universal recognition that comes with marriage.”
While the GLRL has not directly campaigned for relationship registers, it is a step forward in recognising same-sex relationships. Kellie McDonald, GLRL Co-Convenor, also stated, “The results from our community consultations show that people want diverse forms of relationship recognition, and registers are one form, however the ultimate goal for same-sex relationship recognition is full marriage equality”.
The proposed registry scheme will not place onerous requirements on eligibility. Mr Keats stated, “It is pleasing that the registry scheme will not require cohabitation as an eligibility requirement, as it would discriminate against couples who did not live together but wished to be registered as partners.”
Additionally, the scheme will only be available to conjugal couples, unlike in Tasmania and Victoria, where significant ‘caring relationships’ can also be registered.
However, the GLRL is disappointed that there will be no provisions for ceremonies. Ms McDonald added, “Denying couples a ceremonial option for registration turns what is a celebration of a couple’s commitment into a mere administrative exercise.”
While this move by the NSW Government furthers same-sex relationship recognition, we urge the NSW Government to also act in the best interests of children and remove last piece of direct legislative discrimination against same-sex couples in NSW by amending the Adoption Act to allow same-sex couples to adopt.