Queensland ‘downgrades’ civil partnerships and will ban gay surrogacy

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The Australian state of Queensland will remove gay couples’ ability to have children through surrogacy and downgrade civil partnerships to the class of ‘registered relationships’, after a debate in Parliament last night.

The Legislative Assembly in Brisbane agreed to extensively alter the provisions of the Civil Partnerships Act 2011, which came into force in February this year after control of the house swung to the right.

The system, introduced in the final months of the last state government, will be renamed and the option of an official ceremony revoked so it bears less resemblance to marriage.

The conservative Liberal National Party took control of the Parliament from the Labor Party in March in the worst election result for a sitting government in Queensland history.

Leader Campbell Newman had said shortly before the March election his party would “not be making any changes” to the surrogacy law. The Surrogacy Act 2010 allows gay couples, single people and new de-facto couples to have children, so long as a surrogate is not paid.

But Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced last night that single people and gay couples will no longer be able to have children through a surrogate when the LNP repeals those sections of the Act.

When asked why people were not told about this move before the election, Mr Newman told the Brisbane Times despite his statement to the contrary, it had always been a party policy commitment and added: “No one asked.”

Mr Newman said the move by the party, which now controls 78 of the 89 seats in Parliament, to heavily amend the civil partnerships system actually showed it was “prepared to reach a sensible compromise that retains rights”.

The Act delivered many of the same rights and obligations as marriage to gay couples, except adoption rights, and was unanimously opposed by the now-ruling Liberal National Party.

Katter’s Australian Party held its two seats in the March election, which it had gained by defections from the LNP.

The smaller party had wanted to ban gay couples from any form of registered relationship last night, a move Mr Newman said “would cause pain and suffering” and “a lot of trauma to many innocent people” who had entered into civil partnerships.

Australian Marriage Equality Convener Alex Greenwich said: “Same-sex couples throughout Queensland will be deeply insulted by the fact that yet again their relationships have been downgraded and demeaned by their own government.”