The last three weeks have seen significant wins for our community with the announcement of reforms at both State and Federal level. With both sides of politics set to support legislation that will recognise our relationships and families, removing much of the financial and legal discrimination we face every day, this should be a time of long-overdue celebration.

But what do these changes really mean for our community? The introduction of de facto recognition of same-sex couples at a Federal level and the extension of that recognition by the NSW government to recognise co-parents will ensure that our relationships are treated equally to those of heterosexual de facto couples. De facto equality at a Federal and State level is something the Lobby has been fighting for since our formation 20 years ago.

Similarly, the recognition of lesbian co-mothers as the legal parents of children conceived through IVF, and allowing both mothers’ names to appear on the birth certificate, will provide most children in our community with the protection of two legally recognised parents.

With all of this change comes the question of what has been left out and what more is there to do? Access to marriage or civil unions is an obvious point of continued discrimination against our community and the Lobby’s mission of equality will not be over until that is achieved. The Lobby’s mandate is also about achieving social justice for gay men and lesbians. This means social equality in our schools, in our neighbourhoods and in our workplaces.

The inability of same-sex couples to adopt children together, or of a lesbian or gay man to become the legally recognised parent of their partner’s child through adoption, will continue to leave some children in our community out in the cold. Furthermore, the lack of Federal sexuality anti-discrimination legislation fails to protect us against prejudice in many areas.

The Lobby’s job is to work with the community to keep fighting for equality and the rights of all lesbians and gay men. We must also work to educate our community about the new rights and responsibilities they will soon have so that they know how to assert them in the face of discrimination. If you would like more information on the upcoming Federal and State changes, please contact us at glrl@glrl.org.au.

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