Rudd’s Labor government confirmed its homophobic credentials last month by effectively gutting the ACT Labor/Greens government law allowing civil unions for same-sex couples in the territory.
The ACT law passed in mid-November was negotiated away by ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell and Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland.
The negotiations were underwritten with the implicit threat that refusal to co-operate could mean the use of the Federal government’s veto power over the territory.
ACT Labor rolled over in the hope of “getting something”. The ACT Greens have stood strong against the government’s threats, so far refusing to agree to the amendments.
The amendments mean that civil unions will have little legal effect and could be on a par of legal status with dog or cat registration. They will be put to the ACT Legislative assembly in the week of December 8.
Equal Love, Canberra’s activist LGBTI committee, organised a protest of over 200 people in Canberra in late November to defend the ACT civil union law. Equal Love hopes to meet with the ACT Greens to ensure they don’t agree to the Corbell-McClelland amendments.
These amendments come after the ACT government was assured by its legal advisors that the original ACT law would not clash with existing homophobic Federal laws.
John Kloprogge, from Equal Love, told Solidarity that achieving genuine official ceremonies was worth the risk of another Federal veto:
“For three years we’ve been defending the ACT’s right to legislate for civil unions, but the compromise made last week is indefensible. If rejecting this ‘compromise’ risks another Federal veto, that’s a risk we’re willing to take.”
The first gay couple and first lesbian couple have celebrated their civil unions a week after the law passed the ACT Legislative Assembly.
While Rudd certainly holds conservative views on the issue and is close to the Australian Christian Lobby, he wants the discrimination to continue not because of his individual bigotry but because the homophobia serves the needs of his government.
Promoting the idea that certain individuals are less equal because of their sexuality or gender identity serves a convenient purpose for a government keen to distract from the real problems in society.
The fight for civil unions undermines the legal discrimination against LGBTI people—a fight that can spill over into a wider fight to end oppression once and for all.
By Tom Orsag

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