Australian debate over homosexual marriage

"Recognizing gay civil unions would undermine marriage and should be resisted by John Howard, say conservative Liberal backbenchers. Coalition MP David Fawcett, who has called for financial support from the Government for a quit-smoking-style campaign to stop marriage breakdown, said yesterday that recognising gay unions would undermine the family. Mr Fawcett has hit back at fellow Liberal backbenchers pushing for Australia to follow the UK and recognise civil unions for gay men and lesbians. The move is in defiance of the Prime Minister, who has ruled out recognising gay marriages.

The campaign is being led by Warren Entsch, who has the backing of Mal Washer, Judi Moylan and Petro Georgiou, among others. They argue that Australia is being "left behind" by refusing to legally recognise homosexual relationships.

But Mr Fawcett said the effective ban on gay marriage enacted before the federal election last year meant that any proposals for civil-style unions should be opposed. "We shouldn't be working in that direction. We need to value them as people, but I don't believe it's a necessity in terms of families in Australia to recognise them," he said. "I think we need to have some very clear incentives to support and encourage marriage and family - that is for the long-term benefit of Australia - and if we grant (gay people) status and privileges across the board, then there's no longer anything that's an incentive or an encouragement for people to work at a marriage," Mr Fawcett said. "That's why I think we should hold marriage and some of the benefits that go with it as a relationship form that we advocate."

While Labor also opposes gay marriage, key backbenchers and Labor frontbenchers including Tanya Plibersek and Lindsay Tanner have advocated a civil union-style scheme. Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Rod Swift said same-sex couples in Australia had languished many years waiting for law reform. "We congratulate these Liberal backbenchers for supporting equal and just treatment for same-sex couples and their families," Mr Swift said".


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