|Kevin Rudd Unfortunately, prospective Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has wrongstepped the Australian LGBT communities over relationship reform.
While Rudd has promised some relationship reforms for same-sex couples, he has also disappointingly announced that an ALP federal government won't overturn Australia's federal same-sex marriage ban legislation, without making any firm resolutions about introducing parallel civil union legislation.
At a time when Canada, Britain, New Zealand and South Africa now all have either civil unions or same-sex marriage proper, when Hillary Clinton has said she supports civil unions for lesbian and gay couples, and while Ireland is debating its own civil union reforms, Australia has gone much too far in enshrining discriminatory marriage laws in federal legislation. Rudd refuses to acknowledge this, which also puts him out of step with the reformist Clark, Blair and Brown administrations in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, which have passed civil union and relationship reform legislation.
So, why is Rudd so conservative on this issue? He isn't when it comes to abortion or stem cell research, although he is when it comes to maintaining Australia's federal anti-euthanasia legislation. He's from rural-dominated Queensland, the ALP experienced an influx of conservative Catholics back into the party in the seventies and eighties, and unfortunately, Australian LGBTs aren't pragmatic enough when it comes to lobbying for civil unions as an incremental step toward eventual same-sex marriage, through introducing a parallel interim ceremonial and ritual alternative.
Will this backfire on Australia, though? If Australia continues to lag behind the rest of the western world in securing LGBT relationship equality and rights and responsibilities for same-sex parents, then in a globalised economy, it will miss out on skilled LGBT professional couples, who will bypass Australia in favour of more enlightened jurisdictions. Like New Zealand, Australia has a professional skill shortage in a globalised economy.
One hopes that Helen Clark sits down and has a good talk to her trans-tasman counterpart over this issue after his forthcoming election victory. Craig Young - 30th October 2007