Last-ditch efforts by state attorney-generals to bring the Family Court into line for all non-married people, including same-sex couples, have been thwarted by federal attorney-general Daryl Williams.

It was the second time Williams has refused the states’ application to hear property disputes between same-sex couples in the Family Court.

Because of Williams’s refusal, same-sex couples will still need to go to the Supreme Court -“ often a more expensive and time-consuming option -“ to have their disputes heard.

Williams first refused the application to allow same-sex couples access to the Family Court in July this year, despite the united efforts of all state attorney-generals.

At the time, Victorian attorney-general Rob Hulls and NSW attorney-general Bob Debus accused their federal counterpart of acting against anti-discrimination legislation by dividing non-married couples’ rights along sexuality lines.

Rodney Croome from the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group said Williams’s refusal was an example of how the federal government was dragging its feet on equal rights for same-sex couples.

While great strides have been made on equality for same-sex couples at a state level in Australia, our deeply discriminatory national laws are quickly becoming an international embarrassment, Croome said.

The clear message from today’s decision is that lesbian and gay Australians are regarded as second-class citizens.

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