A new parliamentary report has highlighted key support for more federal gay and lesbian law reform including marriage and sexuality anti-discrimination protections.

Law experts and organisations such as the Australian Human Rights Law Resource Centre and the Human Rights Commission petitioned the same-sex inquiries for more substantive legislation to protect workers from unfair treatment based on sexuality.

This comes as the Commission revealed it had received a jump in complaints about anti-gay workplaces in the last year.

The Australian Parliamentary Library’s digest of positions and inputs into the Rudd Government’s equality omnibus bill also noted there was no active proposal to cover the issue within existing anti-discrimination laws or address how public servants would treat people affected by the current reforms.

It is well-documented that hom-ophobia exists in our communities at the present time and this Bill will not immediately remedy such attitudes and the consequential problems, it states.

There are many agencies who are identifying difficulties that will be experienced by members of same-sex couples who receive welfare benefits, both on the grounds of privacy and people’s understanding of the rules. A frequent recommendation concerned the need for adequate training and the need to apply the new rules with sensitivity.

The report also noted that same-sex marriage was a major issue raised, despite the many statements from both sides of politics about keeping the current marriage definition. The Human Rights Law Resource Centre was joined by the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, NSW Young Lawyers and Liberty Victoria in arguing that marriage should be an option available to same-sex couples.

At this point in history, marriage has been given a uniquely privileged economic position. However not everyone regards marriage as deriving its significance from its economic position.

Marriage can be seen as having significance in the moral or religious sphere as well as the legal or economic sphere. As a result of this multi-faceted existence a change to the unique treatment of a married person in one sphere need not affect the significance of marriage in another sphere.

Senate debate on the Government’s remaining equality reform bills will resume next week.

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