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Same-Sex: Same Entitlements: Media release

Media Release

Simple changes could end discrimination for thousands of Australian couples


Thursday, 21 June 2007

Changing the definitions describing de facto relationships in relevant federal laws could help end daily discrimination suffered by more than 20,000 same-sex couples in Australia, according to a report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), tabled in Federal Parliament today.

The Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Report, being officially launched in Sydney tomorrow by Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes AM, found that 58 federal laws denied same-sex couples and their children basic financial and work-related entitlements available to opposite-sex couples and their children.

“As one man told us during our Inquiry - same-sex couples are first class tax-payers but second class citizens - and we have certainly found this to be true,” Mr Innes said.

“This discrimination is completely unfair. There are 58 federal laws breaching the most fundamental of human rights principles – non-discrimination, equality before the law and the best interests of the child.”

Mr Innes pointed out that same-sex couples often pay more tax than opposite-sex couples because of discrimination in tax law, yet they cannot expect the same entitlements in employment, workers’ compensation, veterans’ entitlements, health care subsidies, family law, superannuation, aged care and immigration law.

“Simple amendments to the definitions in a raft of federal laws would end this discrimination,” Mr Innes said.

President of HREOC, John von Doussa, who also led the Inquiry, said the discriminatory laws also have a negative impact on children.

“The Inquiry found that the best interests of children would be better protected if federal, state and territory laws changed to recognise the relationship between a child and both parents in a same-sex couple,” Mr von Doussa said.

The Same-Sex: Same Entitlementsreport is based on HREOC’s 2006 National Inquiry into discrimination against people in same-sex relationships in the area of financial and work-related entitlements. The Inquiry held public hearings and community forums around Australia and received 680 submissions covering a range of topics, many of which described first-hand the impact of discriminatory laws on same-sex couples and their children.

The final report is available online at Personal stories of Inquiry participants can be found in appendix two.

For media enquiries or to arrange an interview/photo opportunity with Mr Innes or Mr von Doussa please call Louise McDermott on 0419 258 597.