Gays, lesbians defend civil unions

MEMBERS of the region's gay and lesbian community have spoken out in defence of civil unions, following a move to repeal new laws allowing them legal recognition of their relationships.

Member for Burnett Rob Messenger last week announced that if he were re-elected he would table a bill that would repeal same-sex partnerships.

Innes Park woman Gwen Silcox, whose adult daughter Selena is lesbian, said she just wanted her daughter to have the same rights as her heterosexual children.

"What I want is something so that partners have legal rights in a relationship so that if something happens everything goes to the partner like in a marriage," she said.

Mrs Silcox said she was frustrated the word marriage was continually being brought into the debate.

"A civil union is also for heterosexual couples who don't want to get married," she said.

"At the moment they can have a commitment ceremony but it's not (legally recognised)."

Mrs Silcox said a hurtful part of the ongoing debate was the number of people claiming same-sex couples chose their sexuality.

"They don't have a choice," she said.

"They are born that way."

Svensson Heights man Richard Culey, who is gay, has also spoken up for civil partnerships and said he was surprised when he found out Mr Messenger wanted to repeal the bill.

"My first reaction was asking why would he want to take something like this on for something that is not going to affect him at all," he said.

"I want to know is what forms the motivation for him to do this."

Mr Culey said from what he understood of the legislation, the only new right it gave same-sex couples was to register a partnership rather than having to wait for two years before they would have to prove they were in a de facto relationship.

He said a number of his friends felt Mr Messenger's bill was an attack on the gay and lesbian community.

"I don't think that's the right way to look at it - you can't think that everything against you is an attack against you personally," he said.

Mr Messenger said he felt the gay and lesbian community was a very important minority group that deserved respect and protection from discrimination or abuse, and he supported their right to live in de facto relationships.

"I support their rights to live in de facto relationships and to celebrate their relationships in commitment ceremonies," he said.

But Mr Messenger said he also supported Christian traditions that recognised marriage as exclusively between a man and woman.

"State civil union legislation is a deliberate step toward gay marriage, and an unnecessary attack by a minority group on mainstream Christian cultural traditions," he said.

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