There was no better place for the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) to launch its 58 ’08 campaign than in the heart of our community at Fair Day. It is inspiring to see so many lesbians and gay men out and about with their partners, children, family and friends. One could almost think that the dark old days of discrimination against our community were far behind us and yet we continue to be treated as second-class citizens under the law.
Last year the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) released a report that found 58 pieces of Federal legislation that financially discriminate against same-sex couples and their children. In areas such as taxation, superannuation, access to Medicare and carer’s leave, same-sex couples are ineligible for the same entitlements, rights and responsibilities as their heterosexual counterparts. Lesbians and gays all over Australia are penalised simply for whom they love and in 2008 the time for change has come.
HREOC also provided solutions to the 58 areas of discrimination in their report, giving detailed recommendations about the necessary legislative reform. By simply changing the definition of a de facto relationship to include same-sex couples, much of the current inequality would end. Other areas require the law to recognise the nature of our families so that kids with same-sex parents can finally have all the same rights and advantages as any other child. We have identified the problems and we have the solutions – all we need now is action.
Before the 2007 Federal election, the Labor Party committed to changing the 58 pieces of legislation to end the discrimination against same-sex couples. Our job now as a community is to hold the government accountable to that promise and ensure that these reforms happen as soon as possible. To take action and call for equality simply visit the 58 ’08 website (www.glrl.org.au/58) and send an email to the Federal Attorney-General, learn about the 58 laws and get involved with the campaign. Only with the strength and support of our diverse and vibrant community will we be able to achieve equality under the law in 2008.
Emily Gray and Peter Johnson are the co-convenors of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.