RELATIONSHIPS AMENDMENT BILL

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I rise to speak on the Relationships Amendment Bill 2015 and the Greens amendment passed in the upper house that would allow for a ceremony to be conducted in conjunction with the registering of a relationship. We are happy to support the government's changes to our amendment to facilitate the passage of the legislation and its implementation. This is a modest but important initiative in lieu of achieving full marriage equality at the federal level and also a welcome addition for heterosexual couples who choose to register their relationship rather than get married. As has been made clear, the ceremony will be optional when registering a relationship and is not, as in the case of marriage, a mandatory requirement, but it is something that I am sure many couples will wish to take up.

Following the passage of the amendments, the key will now be to ensure that the registrar of births, deaths and marriages does make provision for ceremonies, as it will now be able to do, and to ensure that it happens upon request and that it promotes and communicates that it is available to couples when they register their relationship. I do hope that the Victorian marriage registry on Spring Street will be made available for ceremonies and that it also promotes and communicates this fact.

Recently Australian Marriage Equality put out information comparing where various states were at with their provision for LGBTI equality and same-sex couples, and one of its desired initiatives was having a ceremony conducted in conjunction with registering a relationship. Without that, Victoria is lagging behind a number of other states — namely, I believe Tasmania and the ACT, which have this provision. So the passing of this amendment will be another key step in this state's support for same-sex couples.

I would certainly like to acknowledge members of the government and the opposition and other crossbenchers for their support for our amendment along with my upper house colleague Sue Pennicuik, who raised this in the upper house and who has also brought this amendment before previous Parliaments — also, of course, all those LGBTI advocates who work so tirelessly to achieve equality. I look forward to working together with them and with members of this Parliament to further the cause of LGBTI equality in Victoria.