Activists will use a union rally in central Sydney next Tuesday to protest the proposed overhaul of federal workplace relations, which they say would unfairly impact on gay and lesbian employees.

Gay lobbyists will join union members at Belmore Park, near Central Station, in the rally, part of an Australian Council of Trade Unions’ national day of action. Another protest will take place in Martin Place.

The government’s workplace relations package, called WorkChoices, has come under fire for excluding people in same-sex relationships from the definition of de facto spouse.

Gay activist Chris Mansergh, who is helping to organise next Tuesday’s rallies, told Sydney Star Observer the event would also highlight concerns about workers’ access to a $4,000 funding package if they were dismissed on the grounds of sexuality.

The rally plans come amid accusations WorkChoices’ definition of de facto spouse would limit gay workers’ access to carer’s leave.

Under the proposed law, which is currently before parliament, carer’s leave would be available to people needing to care for a member of their immediate family or their household.

Immediate family would include a spouse -“ defined as an opposite-sex partner.

A spokesman for Workplace Relations minister Kevin Andrews told The Age same-sex partners would be covered as members of the employee’s household.

But federal Labor MP for Sydney Tanya Plibersek told the Star gay men and lesbians who did not live with their partners faced exclusion.

There is a serious danger here that same-sex partners will lose the ability to take carer’s leave to care for their partner, particularly if they and their partner don’t live together, she said.

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor David Scamell said the legislation would also limit gay workers’ rights to adoption and parental leave.

He said the government’s inclusion of same-sex partners in the definition of family members under proposed anti-terrorism laws, but not in the workplace relations package, was inconsistent.

The rallies at Martin Place and Belmore Park will take place on 15 November from 8:30am. For details, go to www.rightsatwork.com.au or phone 1300 362 223.

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