Campbell Newman.
Campbell Newman. Chris Ison

Lobby group accept govt decision

QUEENSLAND'S Christian lobby group will lay down the sword after a State Government decision to scrap civil ceremonies they believe "emulate marriage".

Premier Campbell Newman believes the government's decision not to repeal the Civil Partnerships Act is a "win-win" situation with marriage equality group Equal Love also labelling the result a victory.

But a relationship counsellor, who speaks regularly with same-sex couples, fears the decision will affect the mental health and well-being of Queensland's lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community.

Mr Newman said couples could still have their own private ceremonies to celebrate their unions, but state-sanctioned ceremonies were now off the table.

He said Christian churches found them unacceptable because they "emulate marriage" and this was a show of "good faith" to Christian groups lobbying the government.

Mr Newman said de-facto couples would still be afforded the same legal rights as married couples, with the current legislation enable "streamlining" of administrative matters for government entitlements and other legal processes.

Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie said leaving the registration meant people could prove their relationships for next of kin, wills or hospital reasons.

He said, to the end of May, of the 609 civil partnerships registered since the legislation was introduced, only 21 held the declaration ceremonies that will be taken away.

"We did not want to leave people in legal limbo," he said.

"The difference is under de facto you have to prove the relationship, by having the registration enables people to prove that relationship with a lot less bureaucracy."

Relationships Australia Rainbow service counsellor Chris Pye said the speculation about the new government repealing civil union laws that followed hot on the heels of the legislation being passed had taken the LGBT community on an emotional journey.

"I think it has been a rollercoaster emotionally for a lot of people in the community," he said.

"In some ways it is echoing the American experience when state by state they received marriage acceptance and then it was taken away.

"There was real elation by a number of people I know when civil unions came in and they felt this was a solid step to address marginalisation of people within the community.

"The threat of it being repealed has been quite shocking for some people."

Mr Pye said the decision to take away state-sanctioned ceremonies would still affect the mental health and well-being of the LGBT community.

He said the government should be working toward helping people feel less isolated and more included in the main stream community.

Australian Christian Lobby Queensland director Wendy Francis said the movement would no longer fight the legislation but would keep an eye on the way it was amended.

"I'm pleased parts of the legislation that mimic marriage have been removed," she said.

"I think it would have been better to repeal the whole legislation because it was poorly written."

"But the LNP is trying to please both sides of the argument."

Equal Love's Brisbane co-convenor Jess Payne said the marriage equality advocacy group believed the decision not keep civil union legislation was "a victory" but the decision to take away ceremonies was "shameful".

She said that victory was thanks to all the people who harassed the government, wrote letters and demonstrated in Brisbane last month.

"The LNP felt pressure and could not get away with the full repeal of civil unions," she said.

"The fact they've taken away ceremonies still sends a pretty homophobic message though.

"The ceremony is an opportunity to publicly display their civil union."

Relationships Australia metropolitan director Sue Miller said taking away the symbolic ceremony would still have an effect on same-sex couples.

"We need to be celebrate positive healthy relationships no matter what it looks like," she said. 


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