Sunday, January 04, 2009

Commonwealth Government recognises Same-sex partnerships

In late November the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Bill 2008 passed through the Australian Senate. The definition of a de facto now includes same-sex couples and allows them to leave superannuation entitlements to their partners. Same-sex couples are also guaranteed equality in tax, social security, health, aged care and employment.

The Bill rewrites legal definitions of ‘couple’, ‘partner’, ‘parent’, ‘child’ and ‘family’ to include all couples and their children. The changes will grant equal access to entitlements and benefits in federal laws relating to taxation, superannuation, Medicare and health entitlements, social security, veterans’ and defence benefits, migration and workers’ compensation.

Medicare and PBS (medicines) changes commenced on 1 January 2009. Other changes, including social security payments, some family tax benefits, Australian passport changes and veterans’ affairs entitlements will commence from 1 July 2009.

For one man this represents Justice at Last.
Edward Young will soon become the country's first recognised gay war widower.

Partners in gay relationships with serving and retired soldiers will, for the first time, be allowed to claim pensions - opening the door for the so-called "forgotten people" of our military heritage and allowing for more people to make claims that must be paid out.

It has been 10 years since his partner, Larry Cains, died. They met in London in 1960 - he, a model, was introduced to Mr Cains, a photographer who had served with the Australian Army in Borneo during World War II.

He took his case to the United Nations and in September 2003 the UN concluded Australia had breached the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Mr Young was "entitled to an effective remedy, including the reconsideration of his pension application without discrimination based on his sex or sexual orientation".

A spokeswoman for the Veterans' Affairs Minister, Alan Griffin, said the new laws would apply to Mr Young and take effect in July.

"People such as Mr Young will not be denied a war widow or widower's pension on the basis of a same-sex relationship," she said. "We would encourage anyone who was (or is) in a same-sex relationship who wishes to make a claim to the department to do so after that date."

It may not be a recognition of same-sex marriage but at least in economic matters there has been a vast improvement.

As a single man whose one relationship lasted 18 months back in 1980-81 the whole thing is rather theoretical which is why I read but do not comment on the discussion of the California marriage laws.

1 comment:

Fran said...

Things do come in steps - so I guess this must be viewed as a good one, but equality is the goal.

Thanks for posting this. Happy 2009 Brian!