Thursday 22 June 2017

When the Australian Human Rights Commission released its Same-Sex: Same Entitlements report, 58 federal laws were identified as discriminating against same-sex couples and in some cases, their children.

At the report’s launch 10 years ago, then Commission President John von Doussa observed: “this report… is about equal access to financial and workplace entitlements. On a symbolic level – and symbolism matters – it’s about recognition. Recognition and respect of all people no matter who they love.”

The Commission held a national inquiry, received 680 submissions, and hosted over 20 public hearings and community forums prior to writing the Same-Sex: Same Entitlements report.

Following a subsequent audit of Commonwealth laws by the Attorney-General’s Department, the Federal Parliament enacted a package of reforms to ensure same-sex couples received equal treatment in taxation law, social security law, family law, immigration and superannuation.

“The Same-Sex: Same Entitlements report is a key milestone in Australia’s journey towards equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people,” said Human Rights Commissioner, Edward Santow.

Same-Sex: Same Entitlements led to substantial reform with bipartisan support. It also laid the groundwork for further reform, including the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

“It might  be tempting to assume that LGBTI people now enjoy full equality in Australia. But we aren’t there yet.

“LGBTI people still face a heightened risk of violence and disadvantage. Although unlawful, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status still exists.

“For example, marriage reform remains incomplete. Change is also needed to ensure that transgender and intersex people access medical care in a way that protects their basic human rights.

“The 10th anniversary of Same Sex: Same Entitlements reminds us how communities can work cooperatively with government to ensure all people enjoy equality before the law,” Commissioner Santow said.