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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2986 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

This is not about special rights; it is about human rights. Why are some ACT citizens treated differently when they have committed no crime, when they are our community? I strongly urge this Assembly to support my motion so that we can get on with putting things right.

MR HARGREAVES (4.58): Mr Speaker, I welcome the motion Ms Dundas has moved today. This Assembly has a good record on same-sex law reform, but there is no doubt that more needs to be done. Gay and lesbian people still face legal discrimination, homophobia and violence on a daily basis. The community has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go. That is why the ACT Labor government is committed to further reform.

Labor believes that all people are entitled to respect, dignity and the right to participate in society and to receive the protection of the law, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This Labor government is committed to implementing policies to give effect to our belief. The Chief Minister will talk more on that later.

Mr Speaker, the government has done exactly what we said we would do-establish an inquiry to investigate and make recommendations to achieve equal legal status for gays and lesbians in the ACT. The Chief Minister has outlined the progress of this inquiry, but he will do more in a minute. It might be taking longer than many would have hoped, but we need to recognise that this work must be done before we can move ahead with legislative reform. We have got to get it right the first time.

The government does not shy away from its commitments to the gay and lesbian community. That has been demonstrated by many on the current government side of the house in speeches in the last Assembly and this one. Labor has said that we will introduce programs to fight discrimination and vilification of gays and lesbians and legislate for two people, regardless of gender, to enter into legally recognised union. We will meet these commitments.

Labor's record of same-sex law reform speaks for itself. In 1994 the Follett Labor government passed legislation that was acknowledged around Australia and in other jurisdictions as being ground-breaking legislation in providing access to equality in property rights for people in same-sex relationships. Looking around the country, we can see that it is Labor governments that have delivered law reform in this area-Bob Carr's Labor government in New South Wales, with its "acts of passion" reform package, Steve Bracks government in Victoria, and most recently Geoff Gallop's government in Western Australia. I have no doubt that Jon Stanhope's government will be the next.

At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MR HARGREAVES: As I said at the outset, I welcome Mrs Dundas' motion and her commitment to law reform in this area. It is nice to see members in the place publicly declare their support for the removal of draconian provisions and draconian attitudes. I welcome any member in this place who wants to stand up and say enough is enough.

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