Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Same-sex changes to take effect 15 March

The Governor-General has proclaimed that the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws - General Law Reform) Act 2008 is to commence on 15 March.

Click here for the proclamation.

The changes remove discrimination from a raft of Commonwealth legislation, including:
  • Medicare
  • Tax
  • Veterans' Affairs
  • Superannuation for Commonwealth public servants

For the full list of legislation being amended (and it's huge!) click here.

The changes came about from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission Report in 2007 : Same-Sex: Same Entitlements, which identified 55 Commonwealth laws which discriminated against same-sex people in their property and personal rights. The Howard Government refused to make the changes (except promising to change superannuation matters concerning Commonwealth public servants).

Kevin Rudd promised to make the changes. On coming to office his government identified that there were 100 laws that discriminated.

84 of those laws will be altered on 15 March.

Some of the changes will not be put into place until 1 July. Same sex partners have been able to take advantage of the Social Security Act because their relationship has not been recognised as a "marriage like relationship". Therefore, what their partner has earned has been irrelevant.

The Government has previously announced that, with the changes, it is expected by 1 July that same sex couples in which one or both receive Centrelink will be subject to the same rules as straight couples. Some who have been able to take advantage of the rules, will then miss out, or have their benefits reduced.

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