Civil Unions: Repeal Section 6?

Aug. 14, 2018 (1 month, 1 week ago)

An amendment to the Civil Union Act aims to stop Home Affairs marriage officers from refusing to marry lesbian and gay couples. The Act, adopted in 2006, gives marriage rights to same sex couples who can enter into a civil partnership known as a civil union. Although the law allows these couples to get married, Home Affairs marriage officers are allowed to refuse to officiate marriage ceremonies for same sex couples.

Section 6 of the Civil Union Act permits marriage officers to inform the Minister in writing of their objection to conduct such civil unions. The Home Affairs Minister confirmed in 2017 that nearly half (421) of the then 1 130 designated marriage officers had objected and had been exempted. Only 28% of Home Affairs branches have marriage officers who are willing to marry same sex couples.

A COPE MP, Deidre Carter, feels strongly that this is unconstitutional and has drafted an Amendment Bill to remove Section 6. She believes it offends the rights of same sex couples to equality and human dignity, and undermines the purpose of the Civil Union Act, which is to remove discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and to uphold the constitutional rights of equality and dignity.

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