Queensland has joined Tasmania, Victoria, the ACT and NSW in legalising the civil union of same sex couples.
The Civil Partnerships Bill was passed last night (November 30) by a conscience vote in state parliament, with 40 MPs voting against and 47 voting for.
Queensland premier Anna Bligh said the Bill was about more than equality.
"It's about the joyful business of love," Bligh told MPs and the 150-odd people gathered in the public gallery for the debate.
The president of the Family Law Practitioners' Association of Queensland (FLPA), Deborah Awyzio, also welcomed the passage of the Bill.
Awyzio told Lawyers Weekly that the new legislation would not necessarily offer any additional practical benefits to same sex couples, but rather give them the ability to register and "feel like they're not being discriminated against".
"It's symbolic, it's progressive, it's recognising the reality of all the different types of relationships that there are in society today," said Awyzio, adding that people who said the Bill threatens the institution of marriage are "a little confused".
"It's not marriage. Marriage is still treated differently," she said. "It just provides a mechanism for people in other committed relationships to have some formal recognition."
The Family Law Act already affords same sex couples the right to bring claims in relation to parenting arrangements or property settlements, Awyzio explained.
"I think the only increase or difference for family lawyers' work will be when there's an application made to terminate a relationship ... We haven't seen any forms or anything that are to be used by the courts yet, but it will likely be similar to the divorce process in the commonwealth jurisdiction ... That's a fairly simple process," she said, adding that the Bill was consistent with existing anti-discrimination legislation in QLD.
Critics of the Bill, including Shadow Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, said it was introduced to shore up left votes before the election due early next year.
Introduced on 25 October, Bleijie argued the Bill had been too rushed to allow enough time for community concerns to be raised.
Bligh concluded her supporting statement for the Bill with the words of Michael Kirby: "Fortunate is a human being, straight or gay, who has such a life long love. Evil are those who would deny such a love to a fellow human being."
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