Monday, 26 April 2010

Government to ban commissions for financial planners and forcing them to act in the best interests of clients: Australian

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Anti-discrimination legislation to merge into one: government

Anti-discrimination acts to merge into one: government

Attorney-General, Robert McClelland and Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner today announced the Government’s intention to streamline federal anti-discrimination legislation into one single comprehensive law.

Currently, Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation is located in four separate and distinct laws: the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, and the Age Discrimination Act 2004.

A single Act will address current inconsistencies and make the system more user-friendly by clarifying relevant rights and obligations. It will also provide the opportunity to review the complaints handling process and the related role and functions of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Importantly, there will be no diminution of existing protections currently available at the federal level.

“Effective anti-discrimination legislation is an important element in removing barriers to greater inclusion and participation in society. Anti-discrimination law should be clear and easy to understand because people shouldn’t need expensive legal advice to know their rights and obligations,” Mr McClelland said

The project, to be delivered through a Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership, will also provide the basis for the development of harmonised State and Territory anti-discrimination laws which is currently being progressed through the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG).

“Better Regulation Ministerial Partnerships form a key part of the Government's deregulation agenda and ensure a disciplined and coordinated approach to delivering regulatory reform across government.

“Consolidating all Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation into one Act will reduce the regulatory burden and drive greater efficiencies and improved productivity outcomes by reducing compliance costs for individuals and business, particularly small business,” Mr Tanner said.
The Government intends to develop exposure draft legislation as the basis for consultation with stakeholders and the public.

A single Act dealing with all federal anti-discrimination laws represents an important part of the Australian Human Rights Framework and will create a more effective system by ensuring adequate protections from unlawful discrimination.

Source: Ministerial Media Release

Friday, 16 April 2010

Lesbian co-mothers are not parents under Family Law Act, but can seek orders about the children: court

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Same sex domestic violence help please

In about a month's time, I am delivering a paper for Australia's CEO Challenge about same sex domestic violence. This will of course be in May, which is Domestic Violence Prevention Month in my home state, Queensland.

It is unfortunate but true that domestic violence is not confined to straight relationships. It occurs in gay, lesbian and trans relationships too.

One of the greatest joys for me as a lawyer is to be able to help ensure that a client is safe. As one of my clients said last year: "I don't feel afraid any more."

While I have acted for gay and lesbian (and one trans) clients who were the subjects of domestic violence from their partners, and while I have spoken about this topic before and know it well, I  would like to hear if anyone has been a survivor of same sex domestic violence. I would like to know if you identify as lesbian, gay, bi or trans and what domestic violence you were subjected to and what impact it had on you.

Many of my clients have said over the years that when it came to being hit and verbally abused, the latter was the worst. One client of mine told me in 1994: "Because the pain doesn't go away."

One topic that people are reluctant to talk about is sexual assault and abuse, as there is a veil of silence. To talk about domestic violence can be shameful, embarrassing and frightening. For survivors, sexual assault can be the most degrading and humiliating form of abuse. Sexual abuse can often be the key to the other behaviours of abuse in a relationship.

Domestic violence has many definitions. I consider that the definition in Queensland's Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act (which includes the ability to protect people in same sex relationships) are these acts committed by one person in a domestic relationship to the other:

  • wilful injury
  • wilfil damage to the other's property
  • harassment and intimidation
  • an indecent act to the body of the other, without the other's consent
  • a threat to commit any of these.
If anyone is prepared to contact me, you can contact me these ways:


phone: 07 3221 9544

You can also tweet me, but you should only do so as a direct message, otherwise, unless you want it to, all the world will know what you have told me:

Any information you give me will be treated as completely confidential.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Minefield of same sex parenting

If you are gay or lesbian, and thinking of having children, then please oh please get some legal advice before you do so. That way you can at least see the way forward through the minefield, and make decisions fully informed.

Some contentious areas:
  • In a lesbian relationship, the co-mother may not be recognised as a parent. The court might even disbelieve that there was a lesbian relationship and deny the ability of the co-mother to have any relationship with the child.
  • If a known sperm donor donates sperm, then if he engages in intercourse he is not the father. He might under state law be the father if he marries the mother, even if she were in a lesbian relationship at the time of conception.
  • In a lesbian relationship, the timing of whether the co-mother will be recognised under the Family Law Act will depend on how conception occurred (non-intercourse and the co-mother might be recognised, but from intercourse and she will not be) and when it occurred (if they lived in a de facto relationship at conception, she is included, if they did not, she is not)
  • Sperm donor agreements are not legally binding. They give a false sense of security.  
  • If a sperm donor acknowledges paternity, there is then potentially a legal conflict as to whether the co-mother or the sperm donor is recognised as a parent. The law only recognises two parents.
  • Whether or not a sperm donor is able to go to court to see his child will depend on the key facts of the case.
  • Whether a co-mother or sperm donor is recognised as a parent of the child under the Family Law Act will depend on the key facts of the case.
  • Surrogacy may be legal,  illegal, partially regulated or completely unregulated in the jurisdiction in question. Different tests apply from state to state, and internationally, as to the rights of the child, the surrogate and of the intended parents.
  • A lesbian co-mother may be liable to pay child support OR a known sperm donor might be liable to pay child support, depending on the key facts of the case.
  • Overseas birth certificates in which two parents of the same sex are named, may not be recognised for all purposes in Australia.

Murder of Terre' Blanche highlights homosexual panic defence

The South African white supremacist leader, Eugene Terre' Blanche was murdered last week, allegedly by two black farm hands, one a man aged 28 and the other a boy aged 15. Mr Terre' Blanche's body was found in his bed, beaten and stabbed to death, with his trousers down to his knees.

Terre'Blance was the head of the neo-Nazi Afrikaner Resistance Movement, the AWB, which modelled its flag on the swastika.

At first the rumours that there was a racial motive to the killing were quickly discounted by police, saying that the killing appeared to be an argument about unpaid wages.

Now the lawyer for the 15 year old boy has hinted that the death might have been because of self-defence or homosexual panic defence. Homosexual panic defence is when the perpetrator of a killing says that he believed that the victim was coming on to him in a sexual manner, and that out of revulsion he killed the victim.

The South African paper, the Cape Argus is reporting that the lawyer for the 15 year old boy said:

"My instructions from my client are that there was some sodomy going on and it sparked the murder of Mr Terre'Blanche.

"This is going to form part of our defence during trial," the lawyer said, adding that Terre'Blanche tried to have sex "with one or both" of the workers.

Asked whether Terre'Blanche might have been involved in gay sex, AWB secretary general Andre Visagie said: "It is impossible."

"He told his wife he was coming home from the farm that night (to the family home in Ventersdorp).

"He wouldn't have taken a black man instead of a white woman."

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

ILGA Asia cancels its conference

The 4th ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,  Trans and Intersex Association) ASIA conference was to take place in Surabaya, Indonesia from the 26th to the 28th of March 2010, however, due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances, the conference had to be cut short.

ILGA Asia accepted the proposal of GAYa NUSANTARA, the oldest LGBT organisation in Indonesia, to host the fourth Regional Conference of ILGA Asia in Surabaya, Indonesia.

The conference organisers received endorsements from the local city police to hold the conference. However, as news of the conference became known to local media and groups of fundamentalists, who opposed the conference, they began to threaten to disrupt the conference and upset the participants with violent protests. The police withdrew their endorsement of the conference fearing to not be able to control the fundamentalists and the safety of the conference participants. ILGA ASIA was then forced to announce that the conference was “officially” cancelled.
Source: ILGA

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Indian gay accepted as refugee

The Refugee Review tribunal has accepted that a gay Muslim  man from Delhi was a refugee, despite the court decision there decriminalising gay sex. This is now the second time this year that the tribunal has allowed a gay Indian to be accepted as a refugee.

The Tribunal in the case named 0905785 stated that it accepted:

  • that the applicant was a garment designer and embroiderer and was employed by [Company 2] and [Company 3] , [Mr A] was an employee of [Company 2] and [Company 3] and was responsible for providing the applicant’s training and also supervised his work and the applicant had a homosexual relationship which commenced in August 2006 with [Mr A].
  • that the applicant commenced his own business in November 2007, [Mr A] worked in the new business, their homosexual relationship continued and in June 2008 they decided to live together in the factory.
  • that one of the employees came to know about their homosexual relationship, the employee mentioned it within the community and as a result local people and the applicant’s family members came to know about their relationship.
  • that the applicant’s family were Muslim, very conservative and performed religious rituals very strictly and they found the applicant’s homosexual relationship disgraceful, the homosexual relationship was impacting on the respect of his family in society and the applicant’s father was questioned by religious and social leaders.
  • that the applicant’s father advised the applicant to cut off his relationship with [Mr A] and get married, the applicant refused his father's proposal, [in] July 2008 his father and brother came to his factory with a few other people and assaulted [Mr A] and forcibly took him home.
  • that the applicant was beaten and his mother tried to protect him and he closed his factory premises.
  • that it would have been difficult for him to come out of his home, he was disowned by his family members and the members of the community, he was hated by the community people and the religious leaders acted against him.
  • that it became difficult for the applicant to lead his life with dignity and he became a victim of harassment, discrimination and persecution and the applicant suffered from mental issues as no-one supported him and [Mr A] had disappeared in fear of his family members.
  • that the Indian High Court ruling in July 2009 to declare invalid section 377 of the Indian Penal Code as being unconstitutional, and in effect decriminalising homosexual acts, is unlikely to have any immediate impact either now or in the reasonably foreseeable future as to how Indians generally, and Muslims, regard homosexuality. Having regard to the applicant’s evidence and the independent information about the attitude of Muslims to homosexuals, the Tribunal is satisfied that prejudice against homosexuals is entrenched within the Muslim community and the local community generally and that the High Court ruling is unlikely to make any identifiable change to such an attitude either now or in the reasonably foreseeable future.
  • that relocation within another part of India is not a safe option for the applicant.
  • that there is no part of India to which the applicant could reasonably be expected to relocate where he would be safe from the persecution which he fears.
  • that the public authorities in India would not provide the applicant with protection against the harm he fears.