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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4369 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I am introducing today the Legislation (Gay, Lesbian and Transgender) Amendment Bill 2002, and later today I will be tabling the related issues paper Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People in the ACT.

It is my government's belief 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. In early 2002 I requested the Department of Justice and Community Safety to develop a comprehensive law reform proposal to give effect to these principles.

The Legislation (Gay, Lesbian and Transgender) Amendment Bill 2002 is the first stage of a law reform process to address discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity in the ACT. The Department of Justice and Community Safety has reviewed all ACT legislation to identify provisions that discriminate against same-sex couples or against transgender people or intersex people. The review identified some 70 acts and regulations containing provisions that potentially discriminate against gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex people, and that may need amending.

Because of the number and range of issues identified in the review, amendments to address discriminatory aspects of ACT legislation will proceed in two stages. This bill forms the first stage of this process. It contains the more straightforward amendments. By inserting into the Legislation Act 2001 definitions of "domestic partner", "domestic partnership"and "transgender person", the bill provides consistent and inclusive terms for use across all ACT legislation and statutory instruments.

The bill amends a number of other acts and regulations that currently are discriminatory, for no real reason of policy, towards people in same-sex relationships or transgender people. In itself this is a step towards achieving equality for all in the ACT community.

In general, the amendment allows people in same-sex partnerships to be treated in the same way as people in opposite sex partnerships. As a marriage creates a special legal relationship, the term "spouse"retains its usual legal meaning of a person who is in a legal marriage with another person. The bill also contains a number of amendments that provide for transgender and intersex people to self-identify their gender where a provision requires that a search of a person be carried out by a person of the same sex.

The second stage amendments will address the more complex issues. Matters that will be dealt with in stage two include:

issues that are legally complex (including matters relating to parenting and children, such as recognising the same-sex partner of a birth mother as a parent of a child;

issues that present significant administrative difficulties (such as identifying an alternative process where legislation relies upon discriminatory Commonwealth definitions or where the legislation is part of an agreed national scheme); and

issues that are likely to be the subject of particular community interest.

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