The widower and long-time partner of a gay soldier will not receive a pension, despite a United Nations order stating the Australian federal government should pay him one.
The federal government rejected the UN demand, claiming Edward Young did not provide sufficient evidence of his 38-year relationship with Larry Cains, and did not prove that Cains’s death was war-caused.
In a statement tabled on Tuesday the government claimed sexual orientation was not a factor in refusing Edward Young’s pension under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act.
The statement said Young failed to provide sufficient evidence he was the de facto partner of Cains, and that Cains did not at any stage indicate in correspondence with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that he was anything other than single.
Edward Young told Sydney Star Observer it would have been impossible for Cains to inform the Department of his sexuality.
We didn’t go around and publish letters in the local paper or take out advertisements to say we were in a same-sex relationship. But no-one did. We would have both been shot in the street, probably, Young said.
Young also refuted the suggestion he failed to provide sufficient evidence of their relationship, and the ruling that Cains’s death was not war-caused.
His death was caused by smoking -“ he started smoking when he was in the army. And smoking as a cause of death for a war veteran is acceptable in the pension scheme, Young said.
Equal Rights spokesperson Rodney Croome told the Star the government’s response was unfair and missed the point.
Even if it was knocked out on a technicality, the UN Human Rights Committee made it clear that the policy in general is discriminatory and must be removed, Croome said.
In a statement released yesterday, Democrats justice spokesperson Senator Brian Greig said the response was insulting and placed same-sex couples in a Catch 22 situation.
Had Mr Cains informed the ADF of his same-sex relationship during his Borneo tour of duty or any time prior to 1992, it would have resulted in his dishonourable discharge from the ADF, Greig said.
Edward Young said he was meeting with politicians, and counting on Labor’s promise to take out inequalities in legislation after the next election.
This has never been about a pension. This has always been about the right to ask, he said.