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Australian region
considers civil unions

Australian region
considers civil unions

Canberra area consider offering civil unions for both gay and straight couples.

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 Associated Press. "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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