Gay couples shunning Australia

Gay couples shunning Australia

Gay couples are increasingly turning their back on Australia because their relationships are not being recognised, it has been claimed.

Katherine Eastaughffe and her partner Una Hakin say they regret returning to Australia after taking advantage of Britain’s civil union laws in 2005.

And, the couple say, they are not alone, with many of their friends electing to settle in New Zealand, Canada and the UK, where their relationships are recognised.

Eastaughffe, a software engineer, and Hakin, a drug and alcohol counsellor, moved to Queensland to be closer to Eastaughffe’s parents. They were shocked at the bureaucratic hurdles they faced – including tax forms with small print that specifically excluded same-sex partners from benefits de facto couples enjoyed.

 “There was a real sense of celebration, fun and joy. It was definitely the best day of my life,” Eastaughffe said of the couple’s civil ceremony.

“But I simply wasn’t aware of how badly off same-sex couples were in Australia and how far it is behind other countries.

“I may not have come back if I’d known more about where we are at in Australia in terms of gay rights.”

Eastaughffe said she knew of numerous other couples who were electing to stay overseas because of this country’s archaic same-sex partnership laws. She said a close friend, an Australian doctor in Canada, would love to return but doesn’t feel he can until his marriage is recognised at home.

University of Washington mathematics professor Douglas Lind – who is working as a visiting professor at the University of NSW said Australia’s lack of same-sex recognition had had an enormous impact on his life and career choices.

Five years ago, he says he “fell in love” with Sydney.

However, the lack of recognition of his relationship would be a “matter of some concern,” if he decided to move to the city permanently with his partner.

“I think, given Sydney’s reputation, it’s puzzling there are not more legal protections in place,” Lind said.

“Australia’s a wonderful place, but the current government is out of touch with the people’s views.”

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said she knew of many same-sex couples that had elected not to return to Australia because of the lack of relationship recognition. She said in one case a GP turned down a job in rural Australia because his partner would not be recognised – a ridiculous situation given the amount of money governments are spending to attract doctors to the bush.

 “We need doctors in regional Australia and we have this discrimination in our law which means we’re missing out,” she said.

 “You can have all the publicity you like but if you’re not going to be treated equally why would you return?”

Wentworth Federal Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull said he would be discussing the issue of same-sex entitlements with Prime Minister John Howard.

"The government is committed to removing discrimination in connection with same-sex relationships,” he said.

Labor attorney-general’s office spokesman Joe Ludwig said despite his recent comments that formalised gay partnerships should not mimic marriage, his party would end “discrimination in areas such as tax, social security, superannuation and so forth,” through the introduction of the Tasmanian model introduced in 2004.

This is open to any two people, regardless of gender and includes no formal ceremony – instead couples fill in a form.

Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock did not return SSO’s calls prior to press time.

You May Also Like

Comments are closed.