Changes to federal superannuation law expected to take effect this week are a reversal of past government promises and would confirm same-sex couples’ legal inequality, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) says.
The changes, expected to take effect on 1 July, would refine the definition of interdependency relationships in relation to superannuation death benefits.
Under the regulations, gay men and lesbians would have to prove they were in an interdependent relationship to gain access to their deceased partner’s superannuation.
Factors to be considered in determining such a relationship include its length, whether there were sexual relations, and ownership of property.
The GLRL says the regulations are a climbdown after the federal government last year pledged to remove discrimination from superannuation law.
GLRL co-convenor Julie McConnell says the new regulations would underline same-sex partners’ inequality by requiring them to prove interdependency, something heterosexual couples are not obliged to do.
Our concern is that it’s very much a second-class category for us, McConnell told Sydney Star Observer.
Why should we have to prove [interdependency] when if you’re in a heterosexual de facto relationship you don’t have to do that?
We would like to have it that same-sex de facto relationships receive the death benefit payment of their deceased spouse [without having to prove interdependency.
Currently only gay and lesbian private sector workers have access to federal superannuation death benefits. The government has promised to extend access to the public sector, after withdrawing a super reform bill in March.
In the lead-up to last year’s amendment to the federal Marriage Act to exclude same-sex couples, attorney-general Philip Ruddock told parliament: The government will in fact be moving amendments to remove discrimination in the area of superannuation.
Later that year, federal immigration minister Amanda Vanstone said the government would remove superannuation discrimination against same-sex partners as a concession for its gay marriage ban.
A spokesperson for the federal assistant treasurer Mal Brough, whose office is overseeing the draft superannuation regulations, did not return the Star‘s call.