The Commonwealth government removed discrimination against same-sex couples in more than 100 pieces of federal legislation in 2008.
On 24 November 2008, the Senate passed laws removing same-sex discrimination from areas such as leave entitlements, superannuation, employment, social security, aged care, health and tax. The definition of a de facto relationship now also applies to same-sex relationships.
The three major law reforms are the: Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws Superannuation) Bill 2008, Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws General Law Reform) Bill 2008, The Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Act 2008, which commenced late November.
They seek to eliminate discrimination against same-sex couples and the children of same-sex relationships, amend the definitions of "de facto", "parent", "child" and "relationship" to ensure that same-sex couples are treated equally before the law, and provide access to the federal family law courts.
These law reforms honour the recommendations of the 2007 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report, which highlighted that at least 20,000 same-sex couples in Australia experience daily discrimination.
Suggestions that these law reforms undermine and devalue the institution of marriage by extending similar rights to heterosexual and same-sex de facto couples was debated, unsuccessfully. However, the Commonwealth government has not changed its position on same-sex marriage and will not move to legalise it.
For assistance with Family Law matters, phone Dominic Wilson, Managing Partner of Craddock Murray Neumann, on (02) 82684000. We have Family Lawyers who are certified by the Law Society of New South Wales as Accredited Specialists in Family Law.