Gay and lesbian couples in the ACT can now legally affirm their commitment to each other with new laws providing a major step towards equal rights for same-sex families, Attorney General Simon Corbell said.

“The ACT Government is proud to provide legal recognition for all couples who wish to affirm their love and commitment for each other,” Mr Corbell said. “I am very proud this legislation was passed by the Legislative Assembly late last night.

“Gay and lesbian couples in the ACT will now be able affirm their relationship before friends and families and gain legal recognition of their partnership.

“The ACT Government is a strong advocate for equal rights for all couples irrespective of the gender of both people.

“Legal legitimacy allows same-sex couples greater access to the same Commonwealth superannuation, taxation and social security law reforms that heterosexual couples take for granted.

“Although we have been unable to provide gay and lesbian couples the opportunity to affirm their relationship in a legally recognised public ceremony, this is a historic moment on the inevitable path towards removing discrimination and ensuring equal rights for gay and lesbian couples.

“All couples are now entitled to participate in a non-legal ceremony provided by the state and conducted by the Registrar General or her delegates, providing couples with the opportunity to publically reaffirm their written declaration of commitment.

“Registration will also be extended to caring relationships through a separate act following consultation with carers groups and other stakeholders.

“It is expected that the first civil partnership registrations will be accepted from May 19 and the first ceremonies will be able to be conducted by May 24 this year.”

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