No family left behind

No family left behind

Both sides of politics will support new amendments to the Rudd Government’s equality reforms that reduce uncertainty for same-sex families.

In the second major backdown since the equality bills were introduced, Attorney-General Robert McClelland has circulated an alternative parent-child definition after his first attempt was criticised repeatedly during the Senate inquiries as creating tiered statuses for children. It recognises co-mothers and co-fathers from IVF and surrogate births.

The Opposition has also introduced its own parent definition amendment that achieves substantively the same result but doesn’t call co-mothers and co-fathers parents. However, as Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis told Sydney Star Observer earlier this month, it would not be used to block the reforms.

We copped a lot of stink about referring this [to a committee], but the bill’s been improved, or it will be, to the satisfaction of most. It extends the rights of same-sex couples beyond what was originally proposed by the Government, a spokesman for Brandis said.

The latest inquiry reports, handed down this week, recommend an education campaign be run to inform people about their new rights and responsibilities.

The reports also contained minority opinions from Greens and Coalition senators who were supportive of the reforms but disappointed that they appeared to have been rushed.

We welcome these developments, but there are still glaring omissions in the general law reform bill, which is meant to be the omnibus bill. They originally listed more than 100 pieces, yet what we’ve seen is 60-odd, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Sydney Star Observer.

She said discrimination still existed in migration laws when same-sex couples in registered relationships and marriages arrive in Australia.

We’ll keep the pressure up. I doubt the government would have the courage to support my amendments in terms of the Migration Act and Marriage Act, but if they’re serious about this then they would.

A spokesman for McClelland said the Attorney-General was giving consideration to the matters raised during the superannuation inquiry and would respond in due course.

It is understood Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull made multiple phone calls to Coalition members and held a showdown in the Opposition party room to gain support for the issue.

His chief of staff, Peta Credlin, and Senator Brandis met with Australian Coalition for Equality lobbyists on Tuesday after the amendments were tabled.

We are pleased to see the level of commitment to these bills from the leader of the Opposition and the level of personal interest that he’s shown in the safe passage of these bills, ACE spokesman Corey Irlam told SSO.

We are disappointed however that his leadership has not been able to secure full support of his party for the use of the term -˜parent’ in relation to IVF for opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

Even conservative Liberal Senator Guy Barnett said he was disappointed that the original bills did not recognise co-mothers and co-fathers, although he didn’t support access to IVF for singles and lesbians.

In Australia today, couples of the same sex are allowed this service. It is one of the consequences of the government’s position and policy that it is allowed and, as a consequence of that, children are in those situations. We need to act in the best interests of the child, Barnett told Parliament.

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6 responses to “No family left behind”

  1. It was also the wrong thing to subject people to shock treatment and lobotomy so that they became so terrified of disclosing who they were to anyone that they have lived all their lives in fear.
    Now in their old age with NONE of the benefits that hets have had, they risk losing their family homes AND owing centrelink money, further punishment for being polite, silent and invisible.
    Nothing is simple, especially pre stonewall.
    Many did not declare their Aboriginality until it was safe to do so if they could pass as ‘white’ too.
    It’s Centrelink that should be sympathetic and make administrative provisions for those for whom coming out would mean persecution from service providers in aged care as well as loss of all family supports.

  2. I was very skeptical of the Labor Party when they agreed to go along with the ban on marriage.

    But now they have really unequivocally given us equal rights in everything except marriage.

    Dr Jo, if couples don’t declare themselves as couples, they cannot possibly expect to receive the benefits that couples receive.

    And if they lie, and say they are not a couple, then that is doing the wrong thing.

  3. Thank you to the activists who have risked arrest, turned out in the rain and fought long battles to finally get to the point where Turnbull and all of them took notice and bothered to care, including Rudd.
    I mean care about their political safety.
    My heart is a long way from embracing any of them.
    I am disappointed that the senate inquiry is still leaving the door open for elderly gay couples to be subjected to scrutiny and investigation by centrelink to see whether they are couples, loss of some centrelink income, and potential loss of the family home and prosecution for an overpayment from centrelink if they don’t come out and then need residential care. This is not good enough, in fact it’s still discriminatory.
    What an insult to elders who have lived lives of fear and persecution, including shock treatment and lobotomy.
    Dr Jo Harrison

  4. Thank you to both sides – both Labor and Liberal for supporting these bills.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Rudd Labor Government and Federal Attorney General Robert McClelland for initiating this process of change so early within a new term of government.

    It has not been easy and I thank you for all the time and effort you put into this. You will be able to look back at your time in government, knowing that you truly made a real significant difference to people’s lives – my heart embraces you.

    Thank you very much to Malcolm Turnbull if it is true that you “made multiple phone calls to Coalition members and held a showdown in the Opposition party room to gain support for the issue,” as Harley Dennett reports above. I feel this is very strong action on your behalf – thank you – sometimes we feel your past actions on gay rights have been wishy washy, but we will not forget this.

    Thank you to the efforts of HREOC who really put this issue on the public map.

  5. Why no mention from Harley Dennett of the effort put in by the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby? Readers shouldnt have to read their separate column to find out about the efforts the Lobby has made.