Last week the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) was the first organisation to make an oral submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for the Senate Inquiry into the current same-sex equality reforms.
After we had sent in three written submissions, the bills we gave evidence on were the Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Bill 2008 (De Facto Bill), the Same-Sex Relationship (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws-Superannuation) Bill 2008 (Super Bill) and the Evidence Amendment Act 2008. We would like to thank all those who took the time to send in a submission to the Inquiry. As a result of the community’s effort, the Inquiry received many more supportive submissions than negative ones. And it is the voices of our community, and those of our friends and family, that change politicians’ minds.
The Coalition has continued to pursue an agenda to recognise lesbian and gay couples in the same way as sisterly, brotherly or carer relationships, under the insulting category of interdependent. This was the first issue we addressed with the Committee. We explained in detail the difference between a same-sex relationship and that between relatives living together, or carer-patient relationships.
And interestingly, the Australian Christian Lobby’s (ACL) submission revealed a surprising turnaround, advocating the recognition of same-sex couples as de facto.
The second issue we advocated for was changing the definition of parent under Federal family law. Now that most states and territories recognise lesbian co-mothers as legal parents, it is time that Federal law does so too. This is particularly important for issues such as child support on the breakdown of a relationship.
These first three bills are merely the tip of the iceberg. There are still close to 90 pieces of legislation that need to be amended to recognise same-sex couples.
The ACL is pushing for this to be done one-by-one, rather than the government’s plan to move a single piece of omnibus legislation. If this happens it could delay same-sex equality for years and potentially mean that we lose out in some areas of equality.
The GLRL is arguing strongly for a holistic, swift and equal approach to reform to ensure that lesbian and gay couples are not discriminated against for even one day longer than is absolutely necessary. And we need you to continue to voice your support for full de facto equality.