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Same Sex: Submissions

I have encountered two instances where, under the law of this country, I've been treated differently because I am/was in a same sex relationship.

The relationship in question was between myself and a Canadian. We got married in Vancouver in 2003, and we applied for permanent residency for him to live in Australia as a permanent resident.

During the permanent residency application, prior to the granting of that visa, we decided to buy residential property as an investment. However, after doing some research were informed by the Foreign Investment Review Board that, since he didn't hold a permanent residence visa, and since he wasn't a 'foreign person purchasing, as joint tenants, with their Australian citizen spouse property that is zoned residential' we were not allowed to buy it together under FIRB rules (almost a year later after I complained about this I received advice indicating that we could have applied for an exemption - however this was not something that would have been required had we been heterosexual spouses and by then it was far too late anyway).

The upshot was that I bought the property in my name only, and then when he finally received his permanent residence visa we hired a lawyer and went through a transfer of title process to put the house and loans in both our names. It cost almost $800 in legal fees, and countless hours of filling in forms and so on. Effectively we had to apply for a new loan together to replace the old one in my name only, which also cost money. At one stage, because of state laws granting 1/2 the property to the partner if you live together for 2 years, I believe the situation was that he effectively owned 1/2 the house but I had 100% of the loans for that property in my name only (although I was never sure if under that state law he also became liable for 1/2 of the loans)!

The other instance of discrimination is in relation to divorce.

Unfortunately our marriage broke down, and we are in the process of applying for a divorce. Now, for heterosexual couples where one of them is from another Commonwealth country, you can apply for the divorce through the courts here in Australia. However, when I asked the Registry about the possibility of doing that with our marriage, I was advised:

No there is no such thing in Australia as a Divorce for same sex couples, the Federal Magistrates Court dissolves heterosexual marriages under the provisions of the Family Law Act 1975 (as subsequently amended from time to time) and these relate to legal marriages as defined under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1961.

The upshot is that we will now have to apply for the divorce through Canadian channels (involving if not the consulate then at least a state department in British Columbia), involving vastly more amounts of time and effort, and (I am guessing) more money as well (that will need to be converted into Canadian dollars no less). It's particularly frustrating as, despite us being unable to marry here, we CAN divorce here, it's just that it's going to take that much more effort to do it from afar rather than simply doing it through the local court like we would have been able to do if he had been a she.

I hope this submission is of use.

[ name withheld ]