Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Support queer rights in Western Australia

[ June 18, 2007: If you support the right of gay/lesbian couples to adopt, PLEASE email/write to The West in support of Michael Bennett, who wrote the excellent story on page 9 of today's West. Recently a West editorial railed against gay adoption and argued that a gay relationship was essentially not equal to a hetero one: email here: - Or online, Have Your Say... Please write in supporting gay adoption (if you do in fact support it). Thank you ]

JUNE 19, 2007 - Last week Western Australian’s first adoption by a same-sex couple has been approved more than four years after the Gallop Labor Government overturned laws discriminating against homosexual citizens. The male couple was first approved to adopt three years ago and the relinquishing mother has consented to the adoption.

The law reforms in 2002 amended the Act to end discrimination on the grounds of the gender of couples seeking to adopt.

The Adoption Act is exempt from the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act, however, and a relinquishing parent has the right to discriminate against potential adopting parents on grounds including gender and religion.

Meanwhile Pride Western Australia Incorporated today announced that local lesbian activists Kelly and Sam Pilgrim Byrne would become Pride's first co-patrons. Kelly and Sam say, "Gay parenting isn't new - our families have existed for decades," they said. "Our goal as Pride Patrons is to draw attention to this fact and to let people know that good parenting is not defined by sexuality and that our children are growing up with exactly the same outcomes as children of heterosexuals.

"We want LGBT families to be confident of their parenting abilities and proud of their beautiful children. We want our community's children to know that they are not alone in having LGBT mothers and fathers and that they are cherished, loved and very special." After spending three and a half years trying to conceive, Kelly and Sam are expecting their first child, with Sam more than six months pregnant.

The 2007 Pride Festival will commence with the City of Perth Pride Fairday in Northbridge's Russell Square on Sunday 30 September, run throughout October with a number of arts and community events, before concluding with the Pride Parade through the streets of Northbridge.

Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle says the Labor Party's support for same sex couples appears to have taken a further backward step after they decided to vote with the Government to oppose a Greens' motion in the Senate in support of same sex rights to access IVF and adoption.

"After the tragedy of the ALP supporting the Howard Government's ban on same sex marriage, the ALP's credibility in this area is looking even more shaky", Senator Nettle said. The Prime Minister has publicly objected to same-sex relationships.

Same-sex marriage is not recognised under Australian federal law. Under section 51(xxi) [1] of the Australian Constitution, the Parliament of Australia is vested with the powers to make laws with respect to marriage. Until 2004 the Marriage Act 1961 did not define marriage, but the common law definition of marriage as "a union between a man and a woman" was applied by Australian courts and was taken to be "settled law."

On May 27, 2004, Federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, introduced the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill, intending to incorporate the common law definition of marriage into the Marriage Act and the Family Law Act. In June 2004, the bill passed the House of Representatives. On August 13, 2004, the Senate passed the amendment by 38 votes to 6.

"..Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia."

In Australia, civil celebrants conduct commitment ceremonies so that same-sex couples can participate in a ceremony to acknowledge their love and partnership. The federal government however has introduced a registration system whereby prospective celebrants must undergo Government-approved, accredited training and meet specific criteria set by the Attorney-General's Department to be declared a "fit and proper person" to hold the office of "marriage celebrant".

Under the new rules a registered celebrant is not permitted to conduct commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples.

First gay adoption something to be proud of - GAYinWA
Gay WA couple granted adoption - Perth Indymedia
Pride names patrons and theme for 2007 Festival - GAYinWA
Same-sex marriage in Australia - Wikipedia
Inquiry into Discrimination against People in Same-Sex Relationships
Marriage Amendment Bill 2004

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