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Old 01-01-2006, 07:23 PM   #1
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Conservative Support For Gay Rights


It is difficult to imagine a more unlikely proponent of gay rights than far north Queensland MP Warren Entsch. The federal Liberal member is a straight-talking, Harley-riding former crocodile trapper and wild-bull catcher. His Leichhardt electorate stretches from Cairns through Cape York to the Torres Strait Islands - a vast and rugged expanse of hunting, shooting and fishing country. But the 55-year-old has emerged as a leading member of a group of back-bench MPs defying Prime Minister John Howard in pushing for civil unions for homosexual couples.

Mr Entsch, supported by fellow Liberals Mal Washer, Petro Georgiou, Judi Moylan and others, wants Australia to follow countries such as the UK in giving legal recognition to gay and lesbian relationships. "I'm fiercely heterosexual and I'm not a gay rights activist, but this is about fairness," he told The Sunday Mail. Mr Entsch said his stand was motivated in large part by his friendship with some gay couples. "I know people who have been in homosexual relationships for 20 or 25 years and their relationship is as strong emotionally and in terms of commitment as any heterosexual relationship. "I accept them as a couple socially. How can I go around to my friends' place and enjoy dinner and accept them as a couple and then go into Parliament and express a different view? That would make me a hypocrite. "If they asked me to promote their lifestyle, I would say No, but I will always defend their rights. "I'm not doing this as an activist. I'm doing it out of respect for them. "Those in gay relationships should not in any way be ostracised." ...

PM Howard is completely opposed to any form of gay marriage, but Mr Entsch and his colleagues say it's time for Australia to catch up. "I'm comfortable with what's happened in the UK and I'm supportive of it happening here, he said. "We're not talking about marriage, but civil unions. We're not talking about walking down the aisle." Under a civil union scheme, gay couples would have the same rights as married couples.

"These relationships do exist and we should recognise them," said Mr Entsch. "They are just as devastated at the loss of a partner as anyone else and the break-up of a relationship has just as much effect on them as anyone else. "The commitment they give to each other should mean there's no difference in the way they are treated, in terms of property rights and so on."

Conservative Liberal backbenchers have urged Mr Howard to continue resisting the push, and Queensland National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce says allowing civil unions would lead to pressure for gay men and women to adopt children. But Mr Entsch said: "Adoption is a totally separate issue and I would probably have a totally different view on that. Biologically, it's not possible to have kids if you are of the same gender and that needs to be accepted. "There are more than enough childless heterosexual couples desperate for families and not enough kids to go around, really."

Mr Entsch said he was not sure how his stand on civil unions for gay couples would go down in the electorate, although his opposition to Mr Howard's Marriage Act changes - banning gay marriage - before the last election did not hurt him at the ballot box. "Whether it will cost me political points, I don't know. It comes down to whether it's right or wrong. I'm not going to be a hypocrite."

Support the right but not the lifestyle - seems to be a solid enough position to take.

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Old 01-02-2006, 02:28 AM   #2
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What lifestyle would that be exactly?

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Old 01-02-2006, 05:37 AM   #3
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I believe that would be the lifestyle that entails same-sex relationships, many people find that disagreeable in principle but being able to support the right of people to engage in things that you find personaly disagreeable by means of objective civil liberties and consistency in application would be beneficial.
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Old 01-02-2006, 10:56 AM   #4
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This guy is being sensible. He knows gay couples, knows how much they can do in terms of commitment and sacrifice and love, and supports their right to make their unions legal.
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