Lawmakers in the
Australian Capital Territory, a region that includes the
Australian capital Canberra, on Monday introduced
legislation that would offer civil unions to
same-sex couples. The bill, offered by the ACT
assembly, would allow both gay and straight couples to enter
into civil unions, which boast the same benefits and
legal status as marriage, reports the Australian
"The new laws will give same-sex couples
functional equality under ACT law with married
couples," ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope told the
news agency. "Civil union legislation will give social and
legal recognition to couples who are, for various
reasons, currently denied it. The ACT government is
committed to equality, and these laws deliver on that commitment."
Although many Australian gay rights advocates
hailed the move, some hoped to go even further. "We
would like to see same-sex couples having the right to
marriage, but this is a step in the right direction,"
Australian senator Kerry Nettle said.
In 2004, Australia's national parliament passed
laws that made marriage exclusively a union between a
man and a woman. Also that year, the jurisdiction
of Tasmania approved limited civil union protections for
gays. (The Advocate)
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