Hawaii is set to become the seventh state in the US to recognise same-sex relationships after a Civil Union bill was passed in the legislature.

The bill, which was approved by the Hawaii Senate in a 18-5 vote, now heads to Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie for his signature. A similar bill was approved last year, but it was vetoed by the governor at the time, Linda Lingle – a Republican.

Abercrombie said that he will sign the bill, allowing same-sex civil unions to be registered from the 1st of January 2012.

“I have always believed that civil unions respect our diversity, protect people’s privacy, and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha,” Abercrombie said in a statement. “For me, this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii.”

While not granting same-sex couples full marriage equality, the new law goes some way towards giving gay and lesbian relationships legal recognition.

In the US, same-sex marriage is currently legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

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