In response to the 2007 pre-election survey from the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and ACON, Kevin Rudd and the Australian Labor Party promised the following: Labor is committed to equality for gay men, lesbians and same-sex couples and, if elected, will remove provisions which discriminate on the basis of sexuality, with the exception of the Marriage Act.
Last week the federal government indicated that it would not be including the Family Law Act 1975 in its first raft of reforms to provide equality for same-sex couples. A few weeks ago the Rudd government announced its plans to introduce equal rights for lesbian and gay couples in many areas. We will have the same super benefits, tax breaks and access to healthcare as straight couples. The Rudd Labor government has decided not to include the Family Law Act 1975 at this time. If they continue to exclude it, this will be a broken promise.
The omission of the Family Law Act 1975 from the package of announced reforms will have a number of discriminatory impacts for our community. A lesbian co-mother will not be recognised as a parent in child-related court proceedings in the Family Court. This creates uncertainty for a child in the event of a relationship break-up. This also means that a birth mother cannot pursue child support through the Child Support Scheme from the co-mother in the event of a break-up. Already, lesbian parents have to go to enormous financial and personal costs to secure child support for their children and resolve conflicts on the breakdown of a relationship.
Leaving out this reform will also contribute to discrepancies between federal and state law, leaving couples uncertain about their rights and the rights of their children. We are talking about a significant number of people. An estimated 20 percent of lesbians have children and this figure is likely to be increasing. The 2006 Census recorded at least 4,386 children living in same-sex families in Australia. This change is necessary to ensure the majority of same-sex families are treated equitably. It is in the best interests of these thousands of children to have the economic and emotional security which comes with the legal recognition of their families