It has been interesting to see the large amount of media coverage in Australia about the start up of a law in the United Kingdom recognising civil unions of same sex couples. It is a good thing that somewhere such as the UK, with such strong links to Australia, is formally recognising same sex relationships in some way.
However, I noted this comment on the blog of Rodney Croome, who is probably Australia’s foremost gay advocate and well versed in the facts of issues like this.
But the fact that the Tasmanian Relationships Act is far more comprehensive and progressive than its UK equivalent and received only 1 /1000th of the media coverage leaves me wondering whether the LGBT community’s most trumpeted victories are really the ones that matter most.
Another comment which really leapt out at me was one by Prime Minister John Howard when he was asked about the development in the UK. Not surprisingly he maintained his opposition to recognition of civil unions for same sex couples, but he also said
“I am strongly in favour … of removing any property and other discrimination that exists against people who have same-sex relationships.”
This shocks me so much I really will need to check it isn’t a misquote before believing it, as I and many other Democrats have spent years in the Senate trying to remove discrimination against people in same sex relationships from all manner of different federal laws. During the time when I was leader of the party, we had one significant win in the area of superannuation rights, which I was sufficiently pleased about that I agreed to a joint media appearance with the Prime Minister for the only time in my life. There have also been some partial advances in defence force entitlements quite recently. But just last sitting week the government twice rejected straightforward Democrat amendments in the Senate to Medicare and superannuation laws which would have removed some discrimination against same sex couples.
This will definitely be one issue to try to pursue in the New Year to see if the Prime Minister was genuine in his comments, or whether all the media coverage of so many happy loving couples getting ‘civilly recognised’ just made him come over all romantic and warm hearted temporarily.
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