Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Report
At least 20,000 couples in Australia experience
systematic discrimination on a daily basis.
Same-sex couples and families are denied basic
financial and work-related entitlements which opposite-sex couples and their
families take for granted.
Same-sex couples are
not guaranteed the right to take carer’s leave to look after a sick
Same-sex couples have to spend more
money on medical expenses than opposite-sex couples to enjoy the Medicare and
PBS Safety Nets.
Same-sex couples are denied a
wide range of tax concessions available to opposite-sex
The same-sex partner of a federal
government employee is denied access to certain superannuation and
workers’ compensation death benefits available to an opposite-sex partner.
The same-sex partner of a defence force
veteran is denied a range of pensions and concessions available to an
Older same-sex couples
will generally pay more than opposite-sex couples when entering aged care
This is just a small sample of the
discrimination caused by the many federal financial and work-related laws which
exclude same-sex couples and their children.
is not just Australia’s same-sex couples who suffer discrimination; it is
their children too. Approximately 20% of lesbian couples and 5% of gay couples
in Australia are raising children. The financial disadvantages imposed on
same-sex parents will inevitably have an impact on their children.
This discrimination breaches human rights. And
it can be stopped. All it takes is a few changes to the definitions in some
Same-sex families; second-class
The Same-Sex: Same
Entitlements Inquiry spent more than three months travelling around
Australia holding public hearings and community forums to hear, first hand,
about the impact of discriminatory laws on gay and lesbian couples. Those public
consultations, and some of the 680 written submissions received by the Inquiry,
clearly describe the financial and emotional strain placed on gay and lesbian
couples who are trying to enjoy their lives like everybody else in the
A same-sex couple from Adelaide
said the following:
We are an average suburban family. We are working hard
and contributing to our community. We don’t want special treatment –
just what others can expect from their legal and social community. Our rights
are denied simply because of who we love. We just want
A lesbian parent in Sydney made a
I am not a second class citizen and resent my family
and I being treated as such. All I ask is to be treated equally, no more and no
less than any other Australian. Just
A gay doctor put it like
I am a first-class taxpayer but a second-class
Federal laws breach human
The Same-Sex: Same
Entitlements Inquiry conducted an audit of federal laws relating to
financial and work-related entitlements in order to identify those which
discriminate against same-sex couples and their children.
The Inquiry has identified 58 federal laws
(listed in Appendix 1) which breach the rights of same-sex couples and in some
cases the rights of their children.
The Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry finds that:
1. The 58 federal laws in Appendix 1 discriminate
against same-sex couples in the area of financial and work-related entitlements.
Those laws breach the International Covenant on Civil and Political
2. Many of the federal laws in Appendix 1 discriminate
against the children of same-sex couples and fail to protect the best interests
of the child in the area of financial and work-related entitlements. Those laws
breach the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the
Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Simple amendments will remove
It is simple to remove
discrimination against same-sex couples in federal financial and work-related
entitlements: change the definitions in the 58 laws listed in Appendix 1 to this
There is no need to rewrite federal
tax legislation, superannuation legislation, workers’ compensation
legislation, employment legislation, veterans’ entitlements legislation or
any other major area of federal financial entitlements. There just needs to be
some changes to a few definitions at the front of each relevant piece of
The Same-Sex: Same
Entitlements Inquiry recommends that:
1. The federal government should amend the
discriminatory laws identified by this Inquiry to ensure that same-sex and
opposite-sex couples enjoy the same financial and work-related
2. The federal government should amend the
discriminatory laws identified by this Inquiry to ensure that the best interests
of children in same-sex and opposite-sex families are equally protected in the
area of financial and work-related entitlements.
Same-Sex: Same Entitlements report
The Same-Sex: Same
Entitlements report covers the following issues:
- A short background to the Inquiry (Chapter
- The strategies used by the Inquiry to gather information
- Human rights protections for same-sex couples and their
children (Chapter 3).
- How federal law currently defines a couple; what states
and territories have done to remove discrimination; how formal relationship
recognition schemes may impact on access to financial entitlements; and a new
definition of ‘de facto relationship’ for all federal laws, which
would remove ongoing discrimination against same-sex couples (Chapter
- How family law defines a parent-child relationship when a
child is born to a same-sex couple; how family law impacts on access to
financial and work-related entitlements; and what should change to remove
ongoing discrimination against children in same-sex families (Chapter
- The impact of discrimination against same-sex couples and
their children in federal financial and work-related entitlements. The table of
contents in each topic-specific chapter includes a summary of the entitlements
which are, or are not, available to same-sex couples and families. The chapters
describe how the relevant legislation applies to same-sex couples and families.
Each chapter concludes with a list of legislation setting out what definitions
need to change to remove discrimination in the following areas:
- A miscellaneous list of additional legislation which may
discriminate against same-sex couples and families in the area of financial and
work-related entitlements (Chapter 16).
- A brief discussion of homophobia in the community and
discrimination on the grounds of gender identity (Chapter 17).
- A summary of the Inquiry’s findings and
recommendations (Chapter 18).
- A list of 58 federal laws which disc