The City of Vincent yesterday became the first WA local government to set up a register which recognises gay and lesbian couples.
The council almost unanimously passed the motion on Tuesday night which allows gay and straight couples to attend a brief ceremony and receive a certificate recognising their relationship from the local government authority.
The service is available to all adult residents in Western Australia.
The bustling inner-city council, which covers the popular entertainment strips of Mount Lawley and Leederville, prides itself on being “gay friendly”, Vincent Mayor Alannah MacTiernan said.
The certificate confers no legal rights, but Ms MacTiernan believes it could be used during legal processes including the settlement and drawing up of wills, immigration and property settlement.
The City joins a handful of other local governments around the country, including in NSW and Victoria, who have set up similar registers.
Local Councillor John Carey, who put forward the motion, urged state and federal governments to legislate for marriage equality.
“Some people have said it’s not a core business for council but we have to represent the aspirations of the City of Vincent community, and if there has been a failure of leadership at a state and federal level it’s necessary for the council to step up and lead,” Mr Carey said.
Ms MacTiernan also urged State and Federal governments to take act.
“(The State government) has the power to permit gay marriage, and allow gay people to formalise their relationship in the same way hetero people can,” she said.
“If the community supports marriage equality, then it logically follows state and federal government should bite the bullet on it and I think inevitably that will happen.”
A total of 27 submissions were received from the community during the public comment period, 25 of which were in support and two were seeking clarification. No submissions opposed to the register were received, Ms MacTiernan said.
Outreach group Gay and Lesbian Community Services chairperson Davina Morley welcomed the move.
“Potentially any form of relationship recognition could have positive implications, such as proving defacto status for medical and legal processes, particularly if biological family is being discriminatory towards the same sex partner,” she said.
“The City of Vincent has always been progressive, and I think the sentiment of inclusion and recognition is very important, and while it may not have certain legal ramifications, there could be a flow on effect for the wellbeing of LGBTIQ Western Australians.”
“Ultimately being part of the community improves people’s sense of well-being and connection.”