The partners and children of queer defence force members killed or injured in Iraq will miss out on grief counselling, death benefits compensation or a veteran’s spouse pension, all benefits awarded to the partners and children of straight ADF personnel.
As Australia moves closer to a US-led war with Iraq, Defence In Unity, the country’s gay and lesbian military support group, appealed to Defence Force Chief Admiral Chris Barrie to ensure queer soldiers and their families are looked after.
There are personnel currently serving in the forces who are fed up with being ignored, group convenor Navy Leading Seaman Andrew Stuht said in a letter last week to Admiral Barrie.
These people have done everything correctly, they serve with pride, obey commands and they have attempted to have their relationships recognised and failed.
Captain Rebekah Beaumont said she had seen dedicated soldiers leave the force because of the inequity.
I have seen them become increasingly frustrated about not having the same entitlements as their heterosexual counterparts and even the demise of their relationships because of the lack of support and entitlements, Captain Beaumont said in a letter to the editor of the Army’s newsletter this month.
The Democrats and the Australian Labor Party supported the push in parliament last week by upholding a motion to ensure all defence force employees received the same conditions and compensation in the event of death or injury while in Iraq.
Democrats senator Brian Greig told B.NewsÂ only a concerted community campaign would ensure gay and lesbian soldiers killed or injured in Iraq would receive the same benefits as straight soldiers.
If, god forbid, gay men and lesbians with partners and children are among defence causalities it’s very unlikely they’ll be compensated.