Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2992 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
I do not think anything I have said should be construed as a desire to preserve discrimination which is designed to humiliate or denigrate non-heterosexual people in this community. Ms Dundas has said-and I was not aware of this fact-that there are more such people in the ACT than in other jurisdictions in Australia. If that is the case, clearly we need to address the needs of that proportion of our community in that position.
I do not think there are a large number of disabilities entrenched in ACT legislation, but from the sound of what the Chief Minister had to say there may be pieces of legislation where such provisions exist. In non-contentious circumstances they should clearly be removed as soon as possible.
I hope we can conduct a debate about the more contentious issues in a rational atmosphere and consider what is in the best interests of the people against whom discrimination is presently exercised in the law and what is in the interests of preserving a sense of us reflecting the values of this community as we undertake legislation of any kind in this place, including legislation in areas such as this.
Mr Speaker, in those circumstances, I hope that the report which will available by May of next year will be illuminating. I hope it will lead to a sensible discussion about what we need to do to engineer a truly fair and just society which does not discriminate on a basis that the community would find unacceptable.
MS TUCKER (5.21): Already this year we have debated several times the overdue need for law reform in this area. It is a key part of removing discrimination from our statutes and ultimately from our society. Many of these discriminations have remained hidden to people not directly affected by them. But there are numerous instances where the law denies same-sex couples the consideration and responsibilities for each other that heterosexual couples take for granted. If transgender people come into contact with police or the prison system, there are not always clear guidelines for determining their gender. I note Mr Stanhope's comments on that issue. I am aware of one constituent who identifies and dresses as a woman and who was put into a watch-house cell in the city with men. This was a terrifying and potentially dangerous situation.
In the Transplantation and Anatomy Act, which applies when people are dealing with the death of their partner, same-sex partners are not recognised as spouses and are therefore not necessarily consulted about decisions related to their partner's body or tissues. In the Compensation (Fatal Injuries) Act, same-sex partners are not entitled to the recognition or compensation that a bereaved partner in a different-sex de facto relationship would be.
ACT law does not prevent single or lesbian women from accessing IVF. However, a woman who is a partner of an IVF mother would not automatically be recognised as a parent to her partner's child, when a man in a similar situation who is not genetically related to the child would. Same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt children.
This is just a small sample. I understand from the Chief Minister's office that they have completed a review of the laws and have come up with around 79 instances, some straightforward and some more complex. There are some issues to be addressed and this motion calls on the government to investigate them. Some people in our community and perhaps some people in this place will find these issues difficult to accept. In part, that is