South Australia under pressure to grant gay rights

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A decade after the first Australian state granted equal rights to gay and lesbian couples, the government in South Australia are still dragging their heels.

Despite a 2002 manifesto commitment to update the law, the ruling Labour party still have not passed the required legislation.

Opposition politicians in the state of 1.5 million people have had enough, and today vowed to unite to force the issue when the state parliament gets back to work next week.

Liberal MP Michelle Lensink told The Australian that she is fed up, and will introduce the bill with help from Democrat MP Sandra Kanck.

The bill aims to equalise inheritance, property, next-of-kin and all other rights currently enjoyed by heterosexual South Australians.

The state government estimates some 2,500 gay couples will be affected by the proposed new law.

There was some concern that passing the bill before this March’s state election might cause the Labour government seats in rural areas.

A small party called Family First are opposed to the equality legislation, and had vowed to challenge pro-rights parliamentarians.

Now, 6 months later, Ian Hunter, who was elected for the ruling Labour party in March as the first out gay state MP, is vowing that the time is nearly here.

He told The Australian he was ready to “die in a ditch over the bill, the whole bill”, when it was reintroduced.

“I personally don’t believe it goes far enough but I’m happy to support the bill as it passed parliament,”

“Other states have done it, in some instances a decade ago. We are dragging the chain.”

Government sources have confirmed the bill will be re-introduced by the executive this session.