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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 4379 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

These issues generated a great deal of comment during the consultation process. The fact that the law is discriminatory was not in dispute. Where submissions were diametrically opposed in view was on the question of whether this discrimination should continue. The government's view, my view, is that continued discrimination is not sustainable.

Regardless of views on the desirability of same-sex parenting, the reality is that there are many different and diverse family models. The government's view is that we should deal with this reality. Part of that reality is that children of couples who do not fit into the traditional model may not have two legally recognised parents. My view is that this is contrary to the best interests of these children. This bill is designed to address this issue, and I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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

Sexuality Discrimination Legislation Amendment Bill 2003

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

Title read by clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (10.44): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the government has previously stated its commitment to reforming areas of ACT legislation that still discriminate on the grounds of sexual preference or gender identity. These reforms are based on our strong belief that everyone is entitled to respect and dignity and the right to participate in society and receive the full protection of the law regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identification.

On 12 December 2002 I introduced the Legislation (Gay, Lesbian and Transgender) Amendment Bill 2002 as the first stage of this law reform process. That bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 13 March 2003. I announced this second round of amendments at the same time as the government report to the ACT Legislative Assembly on discrimination of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the ACT was tabled in the Assembly on 8 May.

The main purpose of this bill is to remove discrimination relating to sexuality and relationship status. In this respect the bill is concerned with the right to equality before the law. The bill amends a number of provisions that are currently expressed to apply only in respect of a spouse, which may or may not be defined to include a de facto spouse, so that they apply to the broader category of domestic partner.

For example, the Workers Compensation Act 1951 currently defines "spouse", in relation to an injured or deceased worker, as including a person of the opposite sex to the worker who lives in, or in relation to a deceased worker, lived immediately before the worker's death with the worker as the worker's spouse on a genuine domestic basis,

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