Government removes same-sex discrimination

Posted in Equality and Justice

The Rudd government has finished its one-year anniversary by honouring an election commitment to remove discrimination against same-sex couples from a wide range of federal laws.

The federal parliament on Monday approved changes to superannuation laws that allow same-sex couples to leave entitlements to their partner or children upon death.

The Senate also agreed to a bill to extend the meaning of de facto to include same-sex relationships.

The legislation brings long-awaited equality to same sex-couples in areas including tax, social security, health, aged care and employment.

They are part of an election commitment to act on the recommendations of a 2007 landmark report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

“They (bills) deliver on a very important election commitment on an important day for us,” Labor senator and climate change minister Penny Wong, who is openly gay, told parliament.

“They will deliver the sort of equality before the law that same-sex couples have never previously experienced.”

Liberal senator George Brandis said it was a historic day that signified an end to law reforms that were more than 40 years in the making.

“It’s a shame that these reforms were not undertaken by the previous Liberal government,” Senator Brandis told parliament.

“It ought (have) always been the case that they be included in the suit of anti-discrimination laws.”

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, who also is openly gay and a long-time campaigner for same-sex rights, congratulated the government.

“This is, indeed, historic legislation and the government is to be congratulated for putting the legislation to this parliament within 12 months of it’s election, to remove a great sway of discrimination laws against same sex couples,” he told parliament.

But Senator Brown said discrimination against same-sex couples would only end when they were legally able to wed.

He said the Greens would continue to pressure the government to extend the definition of marriage.

The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws Superannuation) Bill 2008 passed parliament.

The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws General Law Reform) Bill 2008 has been returned to the lower house where the government will approve a range of technical amendments.

Original Article: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/samesex-discrimination-removed/2008/11/24/1227491465110.html