Relationships Register Bill.

Legislative Council 

November 29, 2016

second reading speech

Relationships Register (No 1) Bill 2016

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 16 November 2016.)

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:38 :23 ): I rise on behalf of the Greens today to wholeheartedly support the Relationships Register (No 1) Bill. I note that this is the first of some four bills on the Notice Paper this week that deal with the issues of equality on the basis of gender, gender identity and sexuality. This bill, which is the relationships register bill, deals with an issue that some have criticised as not concerning matters of life and death and they have criticised the attention we will pay to this issue this week. What I find interesting is that quite often to get law reform on the areas of gender or sexuality, it actually takes a death.

We well know that it took the death of Dr George Duncan in 1972 to trigger action to compel our state, first through the leadership of a member of the Liberal Party's team in this place, the Hon. Murray Hill, and then of course under the broader leadership of the Dunstan government and many members of both this place and the other place, to take the lead and become the first state to decriminalise homosexuality. Of course, it is somewhat to our shame that it took a death to compel that action; it should not take deaths to compel action.

However, we know that this particular bill and the recognition of same-sex marriages and the recognition of those who are same-sex partners in their various forms of relationships has again been compelled by not just one death but, indeed, by many deaths, and one in particular that we know has compelled action from the Weatherill government is the tragic death of British tourist, David Bulmer‑Rizzi. Through his death and the way that his husband Marco was treated by not being recorded on the death certificate as his husband was, again, to our international and internal shame. It should not take deaths; it should not take the death of a loved husband of a man to compel these places, these parliaments and this chamber today, to act on equality.

Equality should be more important and in fact should be the bread and butter of our business as parliamentarians. To those who criticise the fact that we will be focusing some attention on these issues this week, I say these are life and death matters. It should not take deaths to compel action and we should be getting on with the job each and every day where we see inequality. We should be acting on that inequality before a person dies and creates an uncomfortable situation where parliaments are then forced to address the issue in a reactive rather than a proactive manner.

This bill also addresses the situation of intersex South Australians and, in a very welcome move, it will create some protections for those who are discriminated against on their intersex status. It is no surprise to the members of this chamber that the Greens will be supporting this bill today. We will be supporting the raft of bills that come before us this week which are part of what one might call the rainbow raft of bills to create equality for South Australians who are gender diverse and same-sex attracted, and recognises the diversity of our community.

We do so proudly. We have done so in all of the parliaments across this country: every MP, every bill, every time. We look forward to seeing some further progress this week. We know that love is love and we have long supported it. We do not shy away from these debates and we certainly welcome them in whatever form they come. Most hearteningly, this comes in government time as government business. While members of the old parties will have a conscience vote, the Greens will have a party vote on this because, as I said, we will stand up for equality: every MP, every bill, every time.

I will not be talking too long today about this particular bill; members have heard me speak for a long time and wax lyrical on these issues and I think there is no indecision as to where I will stand and as to how I will vote. What I want to say is that the time for words is over; the time for action is here and we need to be getting on with the job. However, what I will say is that the job is not yet done and the job will not be done with these four bills this week. Of course, gay panic defence still needs to be addressed but there are so many more areas of inequality that we need to address so let's get on with the job. 

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