Strengthened civil unions laws were passed in the ACT last night. Photo: Wolter Peeters
Improvements to the territory's civil unions laws were passed by the Legislative Assembly last night.
The government's legislation passed with the support of the ACT Greens after a late night debate.
The Greens had previously feared the laws would undercut national efforts for marriage equality, but said last night they would vote in favour of the changes after talks with Canberra's gay and lesbian community.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell's bill will restore the role of ceremonies and celebrants in civil unions and give same-sex couples the same rights as people married under the Marriage Act.
The legislation will effectively reinstate the ACT government's original civil union laws, which were overturned in 2006 by the Liberal federal government, who said they were too similar to marriage.
Labor MP Andrew Barr, who is openly gay and has been a strong advocate for reforms to civil unions laws, tweeted live from the assembly last night as the bill was passed.
ACT Civil union laws now contain enhanced mutual recognition provisions (QLD & NZ schemes) and capacity to recognise more— Andrew Barr (@ABarrMLA) August 22, 2012
ACT Civil Unions Bill passes 11 votes to 6— Andrew Barr (@ABarrMLA) August 22, 2012