A relationships register, which would provide legal recognition for South Australian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) couples and those who married overseas, is one step closer to being developed.

The Relationships Register Bill 2016 will be introduced to State Parliament today and, once passed, will allow unmarried couples, whether in heterosexual or non-heterosexual relationships, to register their relationships and receive a certificate or registration.

This will ensure that people not only have a clear avenue to have relationships legally recognised, but also will make the process of seeking access to entitlements and to asserting their rights, including in situations of a medical nature, far simpler.

As part of the register, the overseas marriages of LGBTIQ couples would also be legally recognised.

Background

Premier Jay Weatherill vowed to amend the State’s laws following the death of British tourist David Bulmer-Rizzi in January.

David passed away while honeymooning in Adelaide and his marriage to husband Marco Bulmer-Rizzi was not recorded on his death certificate because South Australian law at the time did not recognise their marriage.

This caused immense pain for Marco and meant he had little say in the arrangements following his husband’s death.

The Bill, which will be introduced by MP Katrine Hildyard this afternoon, will be debated in Parliament over the next month. Once established, the new relationships register will also bring South Australia into line with the Federal Government’s moves to remove discrimination towards unmarried people, regardless of their sexual orientation.

It is the latest piece of State legislation introduced to Parliament that aims to make South Australia’s laws as inclusive as possible and follows a review by the South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI).
This review identified 140 pieces of legislation that discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and made a series of recommendations to address this.

This bill also makes a number of amendments to other legislation to ensure that further recommendations of SALRI are followed. This includes expanding access to assisted reproductive treatment and surrogacy services to people regardless of their sexual orientation or relationship status.

Quotes attributable to Premier Jay Weatherill

I was horrified by what Marco and his family had to experience when his husband passed away in Adelaide earlier this year and the pain and hurt his family also suffered.

We had already started to the process of removing discrimination from South Australian law and this ordeal reinforced the need to continue putting forward a raft of legislation, including the Relationships Register Bill 2016, to address this important issue.

This Bill provides a mechanism for LGBTIQ couples to demonstrate their shared commitment and demonstrates a respect for the many diverse relationships in our community and promotes a more inclusive society in South Australia.

Quotes attributable to Katrine Hildyard MP

I am so proud to introduce the Relationship Register Bill today on behalf of Premier Weatherill. This bill, like the other bills that we are currently working through to eliminate discrimination against members of our LGBTIQ community, will go a long way to ensuring that every South Australian is included and equally able to participate in every aspect of community life.

I am so sad that Marco has lost his husband. I hope that in introducing this bill that couples like David and Marco do not have to ever go through the difficult situation of not having their relationship recognised at a time of great loss.

Sadly, Australia does not yet have marriage equality, but this bill will help couples have access to their legal rights whilst we wait for our country to catch up with the rest of the world.

Quotes attributable to Marco Bulmer-Rizzi

I am deeply grateful to Premier Jay Weatherill for keeping his promise and bringing forward legislation to allow the registration, at state level, of same sex relationships and for his commitment to improve LGBTIQ rights in SA.

My marriage to David was the happiest and single most defining moment of my life.
Losing David and seeing our family not recognised in the midst of my darkness was devastating. I am so grateful to the thousands of people here in South Australia and elsewhere in the country that rallied around me.

The introduction of this Bill will allow me to request David’s death certificate to be reissued with the correct marital status on it, and in many ways, will allow me to feel that I have fulfilled the promise I gave him on our wedding day to honour and respect him.

I am so happy it also means that couples in South Australia will be able to register their relationship and officially become their loved one’s next of kin.
Whilst the issues of same sex marriage is further progressed in the federal parliament, South Australians couples will be able to register their already strong love for each other and be able to take on the roles and responsibilities they rightly deserve under state law.