Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 841 ..
The amendment I will move will leave no doubt as to different sorts of relationships. I think they will be acceptable. They will not set up a hierarchy but rather acknowledge that there are different sorts of relationships. The community understands that there are different sorts of relationships. We have those relationships now. There are those who choose to be married, and there are those who choose to be in a de facto relationship. Our amendment will validate what the community sees.
It is important not to lose the opportunity to remove discrimination from our statute book. I think the government is to be commended on removing discrimination. In his speech, the Chief Minister said:
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.
We would agree. He went on to say:
In general, the amendment allows people in same-sex partnerships to be treated in the same way as people in opposite sex partnerships.
We think that is very important. Two issues brought forward by the gay and lesbian community were medical issues and estate issues. It is appalling in this day and age that somebody who has been in a long-term stable partnership with another individual not the same sex is excluded from giving consent for medical procedures and deciding whether life support machinery should be turned off. Because of archaic law, this decision may be made by an aunt or other close blood relative who has not had contact for a long time. We certainly do not want to lose the opportunity to remove that situation.
The other issue is estates. Unfortunately, death comes to all of us. When some people die intestate their long-term stable partners are excluded from inheriting property. Their partners are not acknowledged under the law. It is important that we do not lose the opportunity to remove that situation either. People in relationships may have helped pay each other's properties off.
We agree with the proposal to remove discrimination from the other acts. We would be pleased to see that happen. We would be pleased to see that happen in the Discrimination Amendment Bill also. As I have stated, the dilemma for us is with the definitions. The definitions are very important, because they will have a bearing on the future.
The Liberal Party believes in the removal of discrimination against people on the basis of sex or gender. We are in favour of those elements of the bill. We have some dilemma with the definition lumping in together all the different sorts of relationships. That is why we would seek to amend the bill.
MS TUCKER (11.20): I commend the government and Roslyn Dundas for the work they have put into this legislation. The legislation is long overdue. The Greens have raised these issues in previous Assemblies. Today is an important day for the ACT. We are finally having this debate, and it will be successful.