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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3889 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

These examples of the potential uses of the bill demonstrate clearly that the aim of the bill, simply put, is to take the profit out of crime. This government wants to put serious offenders out of business, and we believe this bill will help us do that.

I commend the bill and the explanatory memorandum to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Discrimination Amendment Bill 2002 (No 2)

Mr Stanhope , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (11.16): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the Discrimination Amendment Bill 2002 (No 2) is introduced as part of this government's commitment to monitoring discrimination laws to make sure that they are providing proper protection for the people of the ACT. The recently announced same-sex relationships policy initiative to remove discriminatory definitions of de facto spouse and replace them with terms inclusive of same-sex partnerships is part of that same process.

The Discrimination Amendment Bill replaces the current definition of "de facto spouse" in the Discrimination Act 1991 with a definition of "domestic partner" that is inclusive of same-sex relationships. A definition of "domestic partnership" is also introduced. These definitions will be proposed for general use as part of the broader policy initiatives to provide equality of treatment in legislation to same-sex partnerships as to de facto marriages.

As a consequence of introducing these broader definitions, the definition of marital status has been replaced by the new term "relationship status", which is inclusive of a range of domestic partnerships other than marriage. "Marital status" has been a ground of unlawful discrimination since the Discrimination Act was introduced in 1991. This bill changes it to "relationship status" to more appropriately express the equality of protection to be given by this legislation to same-sex partnerships and de facto relationships as well as to marriages.

It is appropriate that the Discrimination Act, which is designed to promote equality and protect against discrimination, is amended ahead of other statutes to ensure that same-sex partnerships are treated the same as other domestic partnerships.

The Discrimination Amendment Bill amends the Discrimination Act 1991 in three other areas. The definition of the term "impairment" is expanded to include past, present and future impairment. Impairment is one of the attributes set out in section 7 of the Discrimination Act. As such, it forms a ground for discrimination that the act makes unlawful. The Discrimination Act uses the term "impairment" rather than "disability".

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