Rudd to remove same sex discrimination (except marriage)
The Rudd Government announced yesterday that it would introduce bills into Parliament by June so that 100 pieces of legislation would be amended to remove discrimination against same sex couples.
This will matters such as public servants’ pensions, defence force entitlements, Medicare, Centrelink and tax matters.
Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said that some changes would take place immediately, but others would not occur until mid next year, to allow people (and the Government) time to adjust their arrangements, as there would be winners and losers. He was quite clear to identify that whilst gay and lesbian couples are now not treated as a couple for Centrelink benefits, they will be after the changes come into force.
There has been criticism of the Government for its refusal to allow amendments to the Marriage Act to allow same sex marriages, and the Government is still refusing to allow the ACT to permit civil unions as they “mimic” marriages, although there is to be a meeting between the Governments about the ACT proposal tomorrow.
Whilst the peak lawyers body, the Law Council of Australia approved the changes, it called for the changes to the Marriage Act to be made: “As long as the Government remains intent on preserving a special class of state-sanctioned relationship which is closed to same-sex couples, discrimination will persist,” President Ross Ray QC said.
“And it will persist regardless of whether or not any Government entitlements are exclusively available to couples within that limited class.”
He said the Law Council would continue to advocate for reform in this area.
“In the end, it’s simple – all people are equal before the law and should be entitled to the same fundamental rights.”