MPs divided over partnerships bill

DEPUTY Premier Andrew Fraser's Civil Partnerships Bill has divided opinion among the Ipswich district's state members of parliament.

Mr Fraser introduced the bill on October 25 with the aim of pushing it through state parliament before the year's end.

It was initially met with mixed reaction - with some in the Ipswich gay community labelling it as a band-aid solution and a cynical chase for the gay vote.

Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller has announced she will vote against the private member's bill, which calls for same-sex civil unions to be legally recognised.

Mrs Miller said she did not support the bill because she believed gay couples deserved to have the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples - meaning the Federal Government would have to take responsibility for any law changes.

Mrs Miller said she had spoken to people within her electorate before reaching her decision.

"Gay couples have said that they want nothing less than the right to marry, which is a Federal Government responsibility," she said.

"Nobody in my electorate has ever spoken to me about wanting civil unions."

Member for Ipswich West Wayne Wendt said he would vote "yes" for the bill because he believed gay couples deserved legal rights short of being allowed to marry.

"It certainly doesn't go to the extent of marriage - which I think should only be between a man and a woman - but it does allow a celebration of a civil union," he said.

Member for Ipswich Rachel Nolan, also in favour of the bill, said she hoped it would eventually lead to legalised gay marriage in Australia.

"This is the most we can do with our power as a State Government," Ms Nolan said.

"I think it is the inevitable march of human rights and that there will be gay marriage in this country one day."

Ms Nolan slammed the LNP for not allowing its members a conscience vote on the bill.

Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss said he would have voted against it anyway.

"It's a stunt - that's the reason we're voting against it," Mr Rickuss said.

A vote was expected to occur before the year's end.



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