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The recognition and rights of LGBT couples and individuals in Australia have gradually been increasing within the states and territories since the 1970s. Laws regarding Human sexual behavior apply equally to same-sex and heterosexual activity in all Australian states and territories. Every state and territory, as well as many local governments or councils, will formally recognise both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships in some manner. The ACT joined Tasmania in recognizing same-sex unions formally in May 2008, followed in December by Victoria. Same-sex couples legally allowed to adopt other people's children in Western Australia, and the ACT, and may adopt his or her partner's stepchild in Victoria and Tasmania. It is not allowed in the other states and territories.

At the federal or Commonwealth level, progress has moved much more slowly. Between 1996 and 2007, the Liberal Government under Prime Minister John Howard made constant attempts to prevent states and territories from recognising same-sex couples, and halted efforts to amend nearly 60 pieces of legislation which recognise opposite sex couples explicitly. In 2004, same-sex marriage became officially prohibited at the federal level after the Marriage Act 1961 was amended by the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill.

As of 2008, same-sex couples do not receive the same level of recognition as opposite-sex couples in 100 federal law statutes which utilise the phrase 'member of the opposite sex'[1][2] However in May 2008, following the election of Kevin Rudd and the Labor government, legislation was introduced into Parliament to begin altering these laws which will provide equality in tax, health, superannuation, aged care and other areas.[3]

LGBT history and activism

History of Australian gay rights

Australia's early years

Early laws in Australia were based on then-current laws in England, which were inherited upon colonisation in 1788. Lesbianism was never illegal in England nor its colonies, including Australia. Sodomy laws, however, were part of Australian law, from 1788 through to 1994 under Human Rights (Sexual Conduct Act 1994. The punishment for "buggery" (sodomy) was reduced from execution to life in prison in 1899.[4]

In 1951, the New South Wales Crimes Act was amended to ensure that "buggery" remained a criminal act "with or without the consent of the person", removing legal loophole of consent.

The gay rights movement

Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement groups were not organised in Australia until the late 1960s. An Australian arm of the Daughters of Bilitis, which formed in 1969 in Melbourne, is considered Australia's first gay rights organisation.[citation needed]

The Campaign Against Moral Persecution, AKA C.A.M.P., was founded in Sydney in September 1970.[4] C.A.M.P. raised the profile and acceptance of Australia's gay and lesbian communities. Soonafter, the Melbourne-based gay rights organisation Society Five was formed in 1971.[5]

Additional rights organizations followed, including The Gay Teachers Group, and The Homosexual Law Reform Coalition, gay rights organisations which started in the late 1970s.[citation needed]

In 1972, the Dunstan Labor government introduced a consenting adults in private type defence in South Australia. This defence was later introduced as a bill by Murray Hill, father of former Defence Minister Robert Hill, In 1975, South Australia became the first state or territory to legalize sexual conduct between males.

Other states and territories repealed their laws between 1976 and 1990. The exception was Tasmania, which retained its laws until the Federal Government and the United Nations Human Rights Committee forced their repeal in 1997.

An estimated 500 people marched down George Street to a rally in Martin Plaza in Sydney on June 24, 1978 as a protest march and commemoration of the Stonewall Riots.[citation needed] Organisers said the march and rally were part of “international homosexual solidarity day” to demonstrate against sexual repression in Australia and other countries.[6] The event recurred annually, becoming the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2008.

In 1984, the Australian Medical Association removed homosexuality from its list of illnesses and disorders.

The last gay man was arrested on 14 December 1984 in Hobart, Tasmania when he was found having sexual conduct with another man on the side of the road in a car. He was sentenced to eight months jail. He later committed suicide.[citation needed]

In 1985, after consistent pressure from Gay and Lesbian Immigration Task Force (GLITF), changes were made to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) allowing Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents to sponsor their same-sex partners to Australia through a new Interdependency Visa.

In 1994, the Commonwealth passed the Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994 - Section 4,[7] legalizing sexual activity between consenting adults (in private) throughout Australia. It wasn't until 1997 however when the law in Tasmania prohibiting homosexual sex was overturned in the courts that homosexual activity actually became legal in all Australian states and territories.

The John Howard Years

Between 1996 and 2007, during John Howard's term as Prime Minister, many attempts were made to reduce recognition of same-sex couples in federal legislation, as well as to thwart attempts by individual states to recognise unions of same-sex couples. Since the beginning of his term as Prime Minister, Howard has made his position clear on the gay rights issue. In January 1997, Howard refused to offer a message of support to Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras and tells A Current Affair (T.V. Program) that he would be "disappointed" if one of his children were to tell him they were gay or lesbian. In August 2001 when asked in a Triple J (Australian radio station) interview where he placed himself on a scale of acceptance of homosexuality, one end being total acceptance and the other total rejection, Howard replied, "Oh I'd place myself somewhere in the middle. I certainly don't think you should give the same status to homosexual liaisons as you give to marriage, I don't."

In July 1996 the Howard Government reduced the number of interdependency visas, making migration for same sex couples more difficult.

The UN Human Rights Commission declared Australia’s Federal Government in violation of equality and privacy rights under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights in September 2003 after denying a man a defacto spouse veteran’s pension based on his 38 year same sex relationship. The request from the UN that Australia take steps to treat same sex couples equally was ignored. When directly questioned, Attorney General Philip Ruddock said that the government is not bound by the ruling.

In March 2004, Howard condemned Australia's first laws which would allow gay couples to adopt children in the ACT as part of a new ACT Bill of Rights. Howard said, "I think the idea of the ACT having a bill of rights is ridiculous. I'm against gay adoption, just as I'm against gay marriage."[8] The commonwealth, however, did not overturn the legislation.

On May 27, 2004, approximately two months after the UK proposed its Civil Partnership Act 2004, federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock introduced the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill to prevent any possible court rulings allowing same-sex marriages or civil unions.[9] In August 2004, same-sex marriage was officially prohibited when the Marriage Act 1961 and the Family Law Act were amended in order to define marriage as a "union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life". Amendments were also made to prevent the recognition in Australia of marriages conducted in other countries between a man and another man or a woman and another woman.

In March 2006, after the ACT government announced plans to create civil unions within the territory, the federal government vowed to block it.[10] Following the public outcry over Howard's move to kill the ACT bill, in April the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) began a six month inquiry to hear from Australians about the federal government's treatment of gays.[11] The Howard Government banned its departments from making submissions to the inquiry into financial discrimination experienced by same-sex couples.[12]

In May 2006, Attorney General Philip Ruddock blocked a gay Australian man from marrying in Europe. Ruddock refused to grant a gay man living in the Netherlands a 'Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage' document required by some European countries before marriage, to prove foreigners are in fact single. Under Ruddock's instructions, no such documents were to be released to gay and lesbians individuals intending to marry overseas.[13] Following a request for the certificate the following statement was received:

Following the advice of the Australian Attorney-General's Department we herewith certify that Australian law does not allow the issue of a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage to persons wishing to enter into a same-sex marriage.

–Australian Embassy, Netherlands on behalf of the Attourney-General's Office[13]

In June, the ACT's civil union legislation was passed then blocked by the Howard government. A second attempt to offer civil unions for same-sex couples in 2007 was again blocked by the Commonwealth. Plans were also made to introduce a federal bill preventing same-sex couples from adopting, but was dropped after the 2007 elections.

Despite the reluctance of the federal government, individual states and territories were continuing to make inroads. Since 2001, Victoria has amended 60 Acts to include same-sex couples. In 2002, Western Australia removed all remaining legislative discrimination toward sexual orientation (including adoption) by adding the new definition of "de facto partner", and Queensland created a new, non-discriminatory definition of "de facto partner" within 61 pieces of legislation. In 2003, Tasmania become the first state to create a relationship registry for same sex couples, giving same-sex couples nearly equal rights to married couples, excluding adoption. In 2004, the Northern Territory removed legislative discrimination against same-sex couples in most areas of territory law, and the ACT began allowing same-sex couples to adopt. In 2005, the city of Sydney, in New South Wales, created a Relationship Declaration Program offering limited legal recognition for same-sex couples. In 2006, South Australia, the last state to recognize same-sex couples, amended 97 Acts, dispensing with the term "de facto" and categorising couples as "domestic partners". The city of Melbourne, in Victoria, provided a "Relationship Declaration Register" for all relationships and carers starting in 2007, which was followed in December with Victoria introducing a statewide registry and amending 69 pieces of legislation to include couples who are in registered relationships.

Change in public opinion, leadership and policy

In June 2007, the results of a Galaxy poll commissioned by advocacy group GetUp! were released. The poll measured opinions of 1100 Australians aged 16 and over.[14]

  • 71% of respondents agreed that same-sex partners should have the same legal rights as de-facto heterosexual couples.
  • 57% of respondents supported same-sex marriage. The poll suggests a 20-point jump in support since 2004, when Newspoll found 38% in favour and 44% against.[15]

In November 2007, the Liberal/National Coalition, led by John Howard, lost to the Australian Labor Party in the 2007 national federal election. Penny Wong (Labor) became the first openly gay member of a ministry. The Labor Government, led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, openly supported rights for same-sex couples, but not same-sex marriage. Liberal leader Brendon Nelson said he supported equal economic and social rights for gay couples, but not marriage, adoption or IVF.[16]

In 2008, federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland announced that they had gone beyond the 58 pieces of disciminatory legislation found by a recent HREOC inquiry, and that legislation to remove inequalities in 100 areas of the law would be introduced, giving gay couples the same treatment as heterosexual de facto couples, with areas like social security and veterans affairs to be completed by mid-2009.

Attempts in the ACT to offer civil unions for same-sex couples were attempted again under the new Labor federal government in 2008, but were again threatened to be disallowed. However, the federal government has stated that it is willing to accept state-based relationship registers so long as they don't mimic marriage by allowing a ceremony. In May, the ACT settled for creating a relationship registry similar to Tasmania and Victoria.

In May 2008, a survey of 15,000 women aged 20 and above by the Australian Women's Weekly found that more than 70% said same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples. This is consistent with the nationwide Galaxy poll results from June 2007.[17]

New South Wales has proposed amending 50 pieces of state legislation in 2008 so that de facto and same-sex couples will be treated as married couples, with the exception of adpotion and surrogacy, but will not create a statewide relationships register.

Current Australian activist groups

Anti-discrimination and legal recognition

Commonwealth level

Federal (Commonwealth) laws do not allow same-sex couples to legally marry and same-sex couples are not legally recognised in federal legislation.

Australia does not outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation at the federal level. However, in response to Australia's obligation to implement the principle of non-discrimination in employment and occupation pursuant to the International Labour Organisation Convention No.111 (ILO 111), the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) Act established the HREOC in 1986, and empowers it to investigate complaints of discrimination in employment and occupation on various grounds, including sexual preference, and to resolve such complaints by conciliation. If it cannot be conciliated, the Commission prepares a report to the federal Attorney-General who then tables the report in Parliament. It is important to note that such discrimination is not rendered unlawful under the Act.

The Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994 provided that sexual conduct involving only consenting adults (18 years or over) acting in private would not be subject to arbitrary interference by law enforcement. This applies to any law of the Commonwealth, State or Territory.[18]

As of 2007, The Commonwealth Government does not provide protections for "sexual orientation and gender identity" as yet in the Human Rights Commission Act 1981 (Commonwealth legislation).[19]

Immigration and sponsorship

In 1985, changes were made to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) due to pressure from the Gay and Lesbian Immigration Task Force (GLITF). An interdependency visa was specifically created for same-sex couples, allowing Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents to sponsor their same-sex partners to Australia. Unlike married couples, de facto and interdepentdent partners must be able to prove a twelve month committed relationship. The temporary and permanent visas (Subclasses 310 and 110) allow the applicant to live, work, study and receive Medicare benefits in Australia.[20]

Military service

In 1992, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) ended its prohibition on openly gay or lesbian members serving in the military. The ADF also recognizes "interdependent relationships", which include same-sex relationships, regarding benefits available to active duty members. This means equal benefits in housing, moving stipends, education assistance and leave entitlements. The ADF will acknowledge personnel’s same-sex partnerships as "interdependent relationships." These benefits apply only to ADF members who are involved in interdependent relationships with a same-sex partner. To be recognised as interdependent, same-sex partners will have to show they have a "close personal relationship" that involves domestic and financial support.[21]

Civil union proposals

After the United Kingdom began allowing same-sex civil partnerships in December 2005, Prime Minister John Howard said he would be opposed to legislation granting similar civil unions in Australia.

In 2006 the government of the ACT, led by Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, legislated for same-sex civil unions within the ACT. The legislation was overturned by the federal government with Philip Ruddock saying Stanhope was deliberately baiting them. Ruddock received criticism from the Greens party, but claimed that the ACT's policy was not for civil unions but for marriage which was legally defined within the The Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill.

In Australia, civil celebrants conduct commitment ceremonies so that gay and lesbian couples can participate in a ceremony to acknowledge their love and partnership. The federal government however has introduced a registration system whereby prospective celebrants must undergo Government-approved, accredited training and meet specific criteria set by the Attorney-General's Department to be declared a "fit and proper person" to hold the office of "marriage celebrant". Under the new rules a registered celebrant is not permitted to conduct legally binding commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples, although they may conduct non-legally binding ceremonies as long as both the couple and those attending are under no illusion that the ceremony is a legal marriage.[22]

National Relationships Register

In 2007, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that the Government wanted to ensure same-sex couples had non-discriminatory access to tax, social security and inheritance entitlements, via nationally consistent laws and registers of relationships.[23] In December 2007, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stated that the Government would be working on a national relationship register, similar to the one in Tasmania, which would officially record an existing same-sex relationship. Neither Rudd nor the Labor Party endorse the more controversial step of approving same-sex marriage or civil unions.[24]

HREOC inquiry and reforms

Following threats of disallowance of the proposed ACT civil unions legislation and subsequent complaints of discriminatory treatment, a national inquiry was launched by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) in April 2006, which investigated financial and work-related discrimination toward same-sex relationships.[11] On 21 June 2007, the HREOC released its 'Same-Sex: Same Entitlements' report. The Commission identified 58 Commonwealth law statutes and provisions that explicitly discriminate against same-sex couples and, in some cases, their children, by using the term 'member of the opposite sex'.

In February 2008, Attorney-General Robert McClelland said that his department had gone beyond the HREOC 58, identifying a total of 100 laws that discriminate against same-sex couples and hoped to see some kind of action by the middle of the year. Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes had previously stated that he was "very hopeful" that the HREOC 58 would be fixed by the end of 2008 – if the community kept up the public pressure.[25]

On 16 April 2008, the Rudd government was considering delaying the reforms (an estimated AUD$400million over 4 years) until 2009. This estimate fell considerably short of the projected AUD$1billion the Howard government believed the law reform would cost.[26][27] However two weeks later on 30 April 2008, federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, announced that legislation to remove inequalities in 100 areas of the law would be introduced when Parliament resumes in May for the winter sittings. The proposed legislation would afford gay couples the same treatment as heterosexual de facto couples, with a delayed implementation in areas like social security and veterans affairs to be completed by mid-2009. Other areas to be reformed included health, aged care, veterans' entitlements, workers' compensation, employment and entitlements. All the changes would be operational by the middle of 2009; most will begin as soon as legislation is passed.

The superannuation bill was expected to pass the Senate before July 1,[28][29] however the Coalition established an inquiry to look at whether the reforms should include people in other forms of interdependent relationships.[30] Several conservative MPs moved to stop the plan, warning that replacing the terms "husband and wife" with "partner" could undermine the traditional role of marriage.[31] Liberal MP Stuart Robert warned that by replacing references to a "marital relationship" with a "couple relationship" in the super laws, it may "slowly chip away at the institution of marriage". He also opposed moves in the bill to give inheritance rights to the children of a non-biological gay parent.[32] The coalition has used its Senate majority to delay legislation removing same-sex discrimination from commonwealth laws until the end of September.[33]

Social Security Act 1991

Centrelink, a federal agency which handles the disbursement of social security and welfare, follows Commonwealth law and does not recognize same-sex relationships, although they will honor all other cohabitating opposite-sex/de facto relationships. While this reduces the amount of government benefits for same-sex couples, this does allow the non-working partner to claim benefits as a single person, such as single parenting payments. With the federal reforms announced in April 2008, Centrelink is expected to recognise same-sex couples and consider the total income of the household by mid-2009.[34][35]

Inheritance and property rights

Without the automatic legal protections that married couples receive under the law with regard to inheriting assets from their partners, same sex couples have had to take specific legal actions. Individuals are not entitled to a partial pension if their same-sex partner dies. Gay and de facto couples who separate do not have the same property rights as married couples under federal law and must use state courts, rather than the Family Court, to resolve disputes. The plan to grant equivalent rights to gays and de factos has been up for discussion since 2002, and all states eventually agreed, but the change was blocked because the Howard government insisted on excluding gay couples.[36]

With the increased legal recognition of domestic partnerships, this situation is changing. For example, superannuation (tax-incentivised retirement funds) legislation recognised "interdependent relationships", which included same-sex relationships.[citation needed] The announced changes to 100 pieces of federal legislation in 2008 would allow individuals to be entitled to a partial pension if their same-sex partner dies.[37] Gay and de facto couples who separate are expected to win the same property rights as married couples under federal law. The changes would allow them to resolve disputes in the Family Court rather than state courts. Family Court would also adjudicate on the division of assets, including superannuation.

In May 2008, the Rudd Government announced that de facto and same-sex couples without children will be given access to the Family Court. A spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the Government wanted to create a more consistent family law system.[38] A few days prior to the announcement, former Family Court chief justice Alastair Nicholson, one of the country's most senior former judges, wrote to federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland to urge giving gay couples access to the Family Court.[39]

State and territory level

At state and territory levels, there is some form of recognition for same-sex couples, mainly through being considered in de facto relationships. De facto couples, for example in the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and soon Victoria, have access to many spousal rights and can easily prove that a relationship exists through a registry or agreement. However in New South Wales, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, same-sex and de facto couples often must go to court to prove a relationship exists. The inability of same sex couples to have conclusive evidence of their relationships can make it difficult for them to access rights accorded to them under the law. In November 2007, with the Labor party winning a large number of seats in all levels of government, debate about civil partnership(s) was re-introduced.[40][41][42]

All states and territories of Australia (except for Queensland), have age of consent legislation that applies equally regardless whether the participants are male or female, same-sex or opposite-sex. Queensland's age of consent is 16, however it still has a "sodomy law" in their statutes dating back to 1990, punishing anal sex involving any person under 18 with up to 14 years in prison.[43]

File:Same sex marriage Australia map.svg

Status of same-sex unions in Australia.      Same-sex marriage or civil union      Same-sex partnership registry      Domestic partnership agreement      Registered partnerships being debated      Defined statewide as "De facto"      State same-sex marriage ban

Official relationship status Anti-discrimination legislation Pending legislation
ACT Yes Civil Partnership (Registry) Yes -
New South Wales Relationships Register (City of Sydney); Defined statewide as 'De facto', no registry Yes -
Northern Territory Defined as 'De facto', no registry Yes -
Queensland Defined as 'De facto', no registry Yes The Queensland Government has announced it will be considering the creation of a relationship register in late 2008.
South Australia Yes Domestic Partnership (Agreement) Yes -
Tasmania Yes Registered Partnership(Registry) Yes A bill to allow gay marriage expected to be tabled in State Parliament on 1 July 2008
Victoria Relationships Register (Cities of Melbourne and Yarra)

Yes Domestic Partnership (Registry) statewide (1 Dec 2008)

Yes The Relationships Act 2008 (assented 4 May 2008, commences 1 Dec 2008);

ART/Surrogacy Bill expected to be introduced mid-2008.

Western Australia Defined as 'De facto', no registry Yes Surrogacy Bill 2007 being debated in Upper House


The ACT Discrimination Act 1991[44] prohibits discrimination based on sexuality and transexuality (and other grounds) in: access to premises; membership or services of a club; access to or membership of a professional or trade organisation; provision of goods, services or facilities; accommodation; partnerships and qualifying bodies; education; requests for information; work and employment.[45] The first legislation to officially recognise same-sex couples in the ACT was the Domestic Relationship Act 1994.

Attempts were made by the ACT to recognize Civil Partnerships starting in 2006 under Chief Minister Jon Stanhope. The Civil Unions Act 2006, which created civil unions for same-sex and opposite-sex couples and made them legally equivalent to marriage, was enacted on 9 June 2006, but quickly disallowed by the Governor-General on 13 June 2006 under the direction of Attorney General Philip Ruddock, part of the Liberal federal government led by Howard. A second ACT bill, the Civil Partnerships Bill 2006, was blocked again in February 2007.

In December 2007, following the elections and the newly elected Labor Government, the Civil Partnerships Bill went before the ACT Legislative Assembly.[46] In February 2008, Attorney-General Robert McClelland responded to the proposed ACT legislation, saying the Rudd Government would not allow civil unions, and reiterated Labor's preference for a system of state-based relationship registers, similar to Tasmania's model. McClelland said that "the ceremonial aspects of the ACT model were inappropriate."[47] In May 2008, after several attempts to amend the scheme, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell announced the Territory had abandoned its civil partnerships legislation and settled for a system of relationship registers virtually identical to the ones operating in Tasmania and Victoria. The federal Government had not compromised at any point during negotiations.[48][49] The legislation passed the ACT Legislative Assembly on 8 May 2008, giving same-sex couples increased access to superannuation, taxation and social security law reforms. While legislative ceremonies were removed from the Bill, an administrative ceremony may be performed by a representative the ACT Register-General. The Civil Partnerships Act 2008 commenced on 19 May 2008.[50][51][52]

New South Wales

In 1977, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977[53] which prohibits discrimination in places of work, the public education system, delivery of goods and services, and other services such as banking, health care, property and night clubs was passed in New South Wales.[54] Its also Illegal to discriminate against a persons HIV/AIDS status.

The Workers Compensation Act, the Victims Compensation Act and the Criminal Procedure Act have been reformed to include same-sex couples in addition to a further 60 pieces of legislation through the Property (Relationships) Legislation Amendment Act from 1999, and again in 2002 through the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Relationships) Act. All these Acts includes dependents both opposite-sex and same-sex partners, parents, carers and siblings.

The city of Sydney (since 2005) provides a Relationships Declaration Program available for all couples offering limited legal recognition. While making a relationship declaration does not confer legal rights in the way marriage does, it may be used to demonstrate the existence of a de-facto relationship within the meaning of the NSW Property (Relationships) Act 1984 and other legislation.[55][56][57] [58] [59] [60]

On 6 September 1999, New South Wales Attorney General Hon J. W. Shaw QC MLC requested the Law Reform Commission of New South Wales to inquire into Relationships and the Law.[61] The inquiry, which followed new relationship and property laws at the time, also looked at children of same-sex couples and recognition of their relationship with both parents. The commission's report on relationships was very extensive, included many recommendations and took the LRC itself seven years to complete. The report was handed to the previous NSW Attorney-General in June 2006. The current NSW Attorney General, John Hatzistergos, blocked access to the report for two years on the grounds he would table it in parliament sometime in the future. Previous reports by the commission have recommended stepparent adoption provisions to include same-sex de facto relationships.[62]

On 4 June 2008, the New South Wales Parliament passed the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Same Sex Relationships) Bill 2008[63] which recognises co-mothers as legal parents of children born through donor insemination, provides birth certificates allowing both mums to be recognised, creates amendments to 50 pieces of NSW legislation to ensure de facto couples, including same-sex couples, are treated equally with married couples, and creates amendments to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act to ensure same-sex couples are protected from discrimination on the basis of their relationship status in employment, accommodation and access to other goods and services. Adoption and surrogacy parenting reforms will not be included. A lesbian or gay couple will still not be able to adopt as a couple – but may adopt as individuals. Male couples were excluded from most of the parenting-related legislation. The bill passed with a vote of 64-11. The Law Reform Commission report recommended an optional statewide registry for same-sex couples, but no statewide registries will be created.[64][65]

Northern Territory

In March 2004, the Northern Territory enacted the Law Reform (Gender, Sexuality and De Facto Relationships) Act 2003 to remove legislative discrimination against same sex couples in most areas of territory law. The Act removed distinctions based on a person's gender, sexuality or de facto relationship in approximately 50 Acts and Regulations. As in NSW and the ACT, reform has also included enabling the lesbian partner of a woman to be recognized as the parent of their partner’s child across State law. Members of the Legislative Assembly in the Northern Territory can take their same-sex partners with them on overseas trips at taxpayer expense, the territorial Remuneration Tribunal ruled on 9 December 2003. The tribunal redefined a de-facto spouse as a "person who is not married to the Member, but is in a marriage-like relationship with the Member."

The Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Act 2007 [66] prohibits discrimination based on sexuality.[67]


In December 2002, Queensland's Discrimination Law Amendment Act 2002 created a new, non-discriminatory definition of "de facto partner" into 61 pieces of legislation which include superannuation entitlements. Amendments were made to the Property Law Amendment Act to recognize same-sex partners in regard to the distribution of property in the event of a separation.

In Queensland, a person who is in a same sex spousal or intimate personal relationship is protected by the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989. So Couples in same-sex relationships who are victims of relationship violence may take out domestic violence orders against a violent partner, and other protective measures, including counseling services.

Queensland prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991. The areas covered are work and work related; education; goods and services; superannuation and insurance; disposal of land; accommodation; club membership; administration of state laws and programs; local government; existing partnership and in pre-partnership.[68][69]

Queensland's Industrial Relations Act 1999 includes same-sex partners in the definition of spouse. This gives same-sex partners access to state-based parental, family, bereavement and carer’s leave provisions. The Equal Opportunity in Public Employment Act 1992 and the Public Service Act 2008 promotes equality of employment in the public sector.

In June 2008, Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine announced that the Queensland Government will begin considering a relationships registry for same-sex couples in the second half of 2008.[70]

South Australia

South Australia's Equal Opportunity Act 1984 includes "sexual orientation/sexuality/gender identity", making it illegal to discriminate in clubs, pubs, other establishments, restaurants, housing, memberships to establishments, goods and services, education and training, etc.[71]

In 2003, South Australia passed the Statutes Amendment (Equal Superannuation Entitlements for Same Sex Couples) Act 2003 (number 13).[72]

South Australia became the first state to consider allowing civil unions for gay couples when MP Mark Brindal proposed the Civil Unions Bill 2004 in October 2004. Brindal said, "Same sex attracted people make invaluable contributions to society, and society can no longer afford the hypocrisy to deny them the right to formalise their relationships."[73][74]

Following the failure of the 2004 Civil Unions Bill, the Statutes Amendment (Relationships No 2) Bill 2005 was written to amend 82 South Australian laws, so that same-sex and heterosexual couples would be treated identically. This also failed to pass the House.[75]

The Statutes Amendment (Domestic Partners) Act 2006 (Number 43), which took effect 1 June 2007, amended 97 Acts, dispensing with the term "de facto" and categorising couples as "domestic partners". This meant same-sex couples and any two people who live together are now covered by the same laws. Same-sex couples may make a written agreement called a Domestic Partnership Agreement about their living arrangements. This may be prepared at any time and is legal from the time it is made, but must meet other requirements, such as joint commitments, before being recognised as domestic partners. Until the bill’s passage South Australia was the only state or territory to not recognize same-sex couples in legislation.[76][77][78][79][80][81][82]


The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998[83] prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation (and other characteristics) in: employment; education and training; provision of facilities, goods and services; accommodation (including residential and business); membership and activities of clubs; and administration of any law of State or any State program.[83]

Tasmania's Relationship Act 2003 provides for registration and recognition of a type of registered partnership in two distinct categories: Significant Relationships and Caring Relationships. These relationships provide a limited number of rights in the areas of Superannuation, Taxation, Insurance, Health Care, Hospital Visitation, Wills, Property Division, and Employment Conditions (such as parenting and bereavement leave).

The Relationships (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2003 was debated at the same time as the Relationships Bill 2003. Approximately 70 Tasmanian Statutes were identified that discriminated against same sex and other non-traditional relationships, and this bill would have amended discriminatory relationships legislation by removing narrow definitions of ‘de facto spouse’ or ‘partner’ and replaced them with gender neutral definitions to include same sex partners. It failed to pass.[84][85]


Since August 2001, Victoria has amended 60 Acts to included same-sex couples called the Statute Law Amendment (Relationships) Act and the Statute Law Further Amendment (Relationships) Act called unregistered co-habitation, legally giving same-sex couples some rights equal to those enjoyed by de facto couples, including hospital access, medical decision making, superannuation, inheritance rights, property tax, landlord/tenancy rights, mental health treatment, and victims of crime procedures. Victoria prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Equal Opportunity Act 1995.[86][87]

In March 2006, independent Victorian MP Andrew Olexander proposed a private member's bill to allow civil partnerships in the state, but the state government would not allow it to be drafted by the parliamentary counsel.[88]

The city of Melbourne provided a "Relationship Declaration Register" for all relationships and carers starting in 2007. While the register does not confer legal rights in the way traditional marriage does, it may be used to demonstrate the existence of a de facto relationship in relation to the Property Laws Act 1958, the Administration and Probate Act 1958 and other legislation involving domestic partnerships.[89][90][91]

The city of Yarra launched its Relationship Declaration Program on Monday 7 May 2007. Under the program two people may declare that they are partners and have this declaration recorded in the Yarra City Council Relationship Declaration Register.[92]

In December 2007, Victoria's parliament introduced the Relationships Bill 2007, to allow same-sex couples register their relationships statewide with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This bill also amends 69 other pieces of legislation to include couples who are in registered relationships.[93] The Bill was passed by the Victorian Legislative Assembly, or lower house on 12 March 2008. All Labor MPs who were present voted in favour, 24 MPs voted against the bill, 54 voted for it.[94] The Legislative Council, or upper house, voted in favour of the bill without amendments on 10 April, 2008. Approved and given Royal Assent by the Governor on 15 April, the relationships register will come into operation by 1 December, 2008.[95]

Western Australia

Western Australia passed The Equal Opportunity Act 1984[96] which includes "sexual orientation/sexuality/gender idenity", making it illegal to discriminate in clubs, pubs, other establishments, restaurants, housing, memberships to establishments, goods and services, education and training, etc.

The Acts Amendment (Lesbian and Gay Law Reform) Act 2002 removed all remaining legislative discrimination toward sexual orientation by adding the new definition of "de facto partner" into 62 Acts, provisions and statutes. Western Australia allows same-sex couples equal access to adoption procedures and in vitro fertilization treatment. It also gives same-sex couples the same rights as opposite sex couples in areas such as transfer of property, medical treatment, and inheritance upon the death of a partner. A same-sex couple who utilise artificial insemination or 'in vitro' fertilization treatment together (i.e. both parties present as a couple throughout the treatment) are able to have both names on the birth certificate once the child is born.

Adoption and laws relating to having children

Family Law in Australia with regards to children is often based on what is considered to be in the best interest of the child. The traditional and often used assumption is that children need both a mother and a father, which plays an important role in divorce and custodial proceedings, and has carried over into adoption and fertility procedures. As laws within Australia have only recently begun to become more tolerant toward same-sex couples, there are very limited areas where same-sex couples have rights with respect to conceiving, adopting, and rearing children. Additionally, women (particularly birth mothers) are generally given more rights over children than men, giving more room for lesbian couples to adopt and have genetic children. Male couples have virtually no legal opportunities to become legally recognized parents aside from adoption except in cases of drug abuse, mental illness, and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from the mother.

File:LGBTrights Australia map.svg

LGBT adoption rights in Australia.      LGBT couple and stepparent adoption      Same-sex stepparent adoption only      LGBT Individual adoption petition      LGBT Foster parenting only      Adoption rights being debated      All same-sex adoptions banned

Same-sex couple joint petition LGBT individual adoption Same-sex stepparent adoption
ACT Yes Yes (from 2004) Yes Yes Yes
New South Wales No No (under review since 2006) Yes No No
Northern Territory No No (under review since 2007) Only in exceptional circumstances[97] No No
Queensland No No Only in exceptional circumstances[98] No No
South Australia No No (under review since 2005) No[99] No No
Tasmania No No Only in exceptional circumstances[100] Yes Yes (from 2001)
Victoria No No[101] (under review since 2007) Only in exceptional circumstances[102] Yes Yes (from 2008)
Western Australia Yes Yes (from 2002) Yes Yes Yes

Same-sex parent adoption

Adoption for same-sex couples is currently available in Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia.[103] In Tasmania, only stepparent adoption is allowed.[104] In New South Wales, the Adoption Act 2000 (NSW) bans all same-sex couples (regardless), but allows single LGBT individuals to adopt.[105] In Queensland, same-sex couples cannot legally adopt a child, but can become foster parents.[106] Single LGBT people may adopt in some states, but individuals seeking to adopt are considered less of a priority than couples and lengthy waiting lists for adoption make it virtually impossible. Individuals may usually only adopt a child with special needs or in cases of exceptional circumstances. The Northern Territory, New South Wales and South Australia are expected to hand down findings reports by May 2008 to consider legalising adoption for same-sex couples.

Western Australia became the first Australian state to allow same-sex adoptions when its Labor government passed the Acts Amendment (Lesbian and Gay Law Reform) Act, 2002 which in turn amended the Adoption Act, 1994 (WA). This allowed same-sex couples to adopt in accordance with criteria that assesses the suitability of couples and individuals to be parents, regardless of sexual orientation.

Australia's first legal gay adoption, by two men, occurred in Western Australia in June 2007.[107][108][109][110] Subsequently, on 2 August 2007, the federal government under Prime Minister John Howard announced it would legislate to stop same-sex couples adopting a child from overseas, and would further not recognize adopted children of same-sex couples. The federal Coalition’s proposed Family Law (Same Sex Adoption) Bill would amend the 1975 Family Law Act and override state and territory laws that currently cover international adoptions. The bill was due to be introduced in the spring 2007 session of parliament, but has been taken off the agenda following the 2007 federal election.[111][112]

When the last adoption reforms in New South Wales were passed in 2000, the Parliament required that a review on the need for same-sex adoption laws be undertaken no later than 2005 and a report be produced no later than March 2006. As of 2008, the NSW Government has failed to release the report. Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said same-sex adoption was more complex than the current proposals and was being addressed through the Ministerial Council on Health and Community Services as part of a discussion on nationally consistent surrogacy laws.[113]

Same-sex stepparent adoption

In Western Australia and the ACT, lesbian co-mother or gay co-father may use stepparent adoption provisions, although female couples in those states whose children were born through assisted conception may not actually need to adopt them, as the law there presumes the mother's female partner to be a legal parent as long as she consented to the conception.[114] In Tasmania, same-sex stepparent adoption (where one partner is the biological parent of the child) became legal in 2001.[115][116] As of 2008, half of the states and territories, allow both same-sex partners to have a legally-recognised relationship with their child.

However, even those laws contain a general presumption against making an adoption order because an adoption order severs the legal relationship between the child and one of the child’s birth parents. Due to the serious consequences of an adoption order, all stepparent adoption laws (including those applying to opposite-sex couples) contain a strong preference for dealing with new parenting arrangements through a parenting order rather than an adoption order.

In states and territories where same-sex stepparent adoptions are not allowed, the lesbian co-mother or gay co-father may apply to the Family Court of Australia for a parenting order, as ‘other people significant to the care, welfare and development’ of the child. It provides an important "status quo" if the birth mother were to die, so for example other family members could not come and take the child. But the lesbian co-mother and gay co-father will be treated in the same way as a social parent is treated under the law; they will not be treated in the same way as a birth parent.[117]

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) issued a report in 2007 entitled National Inquiry into Discrimination against People in Same-Sex Relationships recommended amending or creating laws recognising the relationship between a child and both same-sex parents. In particular, "‘Stepparent adoption’ laws should more readily consider adoption by a lesbian co-mother or gay co-father." This will require amendments to remove the prohibition on same-sex stepparent adoption in all state and territory laws other than in WA, the ACT and Tasmania." The final report of the Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry was tabled in Parliament on 21 June 2007.[118]

Assisted reproduction

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) comes under the jurisdiction of states and territories in Australia so national legislation cannot be used to regulate its practice. In Vitro Fertilization technologies, artificial insemination, and other reproductive technologies are legal in most states and territories. After Victoria revises its laws in 2008, South Australia will be the only state that limits access to IVF to those who are infertile or carrying a genetic disorder.[119]

Commercial surrogacy and related advertising remains illegal in all states and territories. Altruistic surrogacy, where the surrogate receives no financial reward for her pregnancy or the relinquishment of the child, is legal in the ACT (followed by Victoria and Western Australia in 2008). With altruistic surrogacy, only expenses related to the pregnancy and birth are paid by the intended parents such as medical expenses, maternity clothing, and other related expenses. In November 2006, attorneys-general from all states and territories agreed in principle to uniform surrogacy regulations which meant couples would no longer have to travel to avoid illegal arrangements in their home state after Victorian Senator Stephen Conroy and his wife, Paula Benson, revealed that their daughter Isabella had been born to a surrogate mother in Sydney via the in-vitro fertilisation of a donated egg.[120][121][122] In April 2007, Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock called for national surrogacy laws, so couples in some states no longer have to travel elsewhere to undergo the procedure legally.[123]

Obtaining legal parental rights for same sex partners of birth parents has only recently been addressed in limited ways. Victoria will be the fourth jurisdiction to recognise female partners of birth mothers as parents of IVF children in 2008. Male couples who arrange surrogacy using one partner's sperm, which may not even be legally possible in Australia, will face legal difficulties gaining rights for the genetic father as a 'sperm donor', and terminating the surrogate mother's rights (ideally through a stepparent adoption), which will be required in order to obtain legal recognition for the non-biological male partner. A growing number of male couples from around the world are attempting to become parents through surrogacy in America due to its favourable laws.[124]

ART/IVF for surrogates of male couples ART/IVF for lesbian couples Commercial Surrogacy Altruistic Surrogacy Automatically recognize non-genetic parent at birth
ACT No No Yes Allowed Illegal Yes Legal Yes (female couples, not male couples)
New South Wales No No Yes Allowed Illegal No Illegal No No (Female couples expected to be recognised in 2008)
Northern Territory No No Yes Allowed N/A N/A Yes (female couples, not male couples)
Queensland No No Yes Allowed Illegal No Illegal (Undergoing parliamentary inquiry, 2008) No No
South Australia No No No Medically infertile Illegal No Illegal for same sex couples No No
Tasmania No No Yes Allowed Illegal No Illegal (Undergoing parliamentary inquiry, 2008) No No
Victoria No No No No (Expected to be allowed in 2008) Illegal No Illegal (Expected to be legal in 2008) No No (Female couples expected to be recognised in 2008)
Western Australia No No Yes Allowed - (Expected to be made illegal in 2008) No Illegal (Expected to be legal in 2008) Yes (female couples, not male couples)


The Substitute Parent Agreements Act 1994 made non-commercial surrogacy legal but the birth mother and her husband were deemed to be the parents unless the genetic parents adopt the child back. In 2000, The ACT became the first state or territory to allow the genetic (heterosexual)parents of a child born through surrogacy to become its legal parents, allowing them to easily obtain a parenting order and avoid adoption.[125] It is illegal to advertise for a surrogate and to pay for a surrogate or an ovum donor.

When two women are in a same-sex relationship, and one of them gives birth as a result of ART, her partner is presumed to be a parent of the child. The ACT’s birth registration process allows for a person to be registered as a ‘mother’, ‘father’ or ‘parent’, enabling lesbian couples to be recognised as parents on a child’s birth documents.

New South Wales

The Artificial Conception Act 1984 (NSW) gave children conceived via artificial insemination the same status as children conceived naturally; in other words, the birth mother and her husband were deemed to be the legal parents. This was later repealed and updated with the Status of Children Act 1996 (NSW) which said the same thing, but accounted for a donated ova.

Prior to 2007, there were no laws in place to deal with surrogacy in the state. This changed with the Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2007 which declared commercial surrogacy to be illegal and all surrogacy contracts to be void.[126] The bill reiterated previous legislation, declaring that the birth mother and her husband are lawfully deemed to be the legal parents.[127]

Socially-infertile women (lesbians) are permitted access to IVF treatment in New South Wales. Medicare funding, however, requires the couple to be medically infertile, which makes it only available to heterosexual couples because of an assumption that the man is medically infertile. A lesbian couple would not have a medical condition that makes the couple infertile.[128] There has been controversy with a clause in the Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2007 that allows donors to nominate classes of people to whom their sperm or eggs may not be given, allowing for discrimination against ethnic, religious and other minorities, including same-sex couples.[129]

On 4 June 2008, the New South Wales Parliament passed the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Same Sex Relationships) Bill 2008[63] which recognises co-mothers as legal parents of children born through donor insemination, provides birth certificates allowing both mums to be recognised, Adoption and surrogacy parenting reforms were not included. The bill passed with a vote of 64-11.[64][65]

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory was the second jurisdiction to extend a presumption of parentage to lesbian partners in 2003 with its Status of Children Act 2003, following Western Australia's lead in 2002.[130][131]


The Surrogate Parenthood Act 1988, which commenced on 6 October 1988, prohibits all forms of surrogacy, formal and informal, paid and altruistic. All surrogacy contracts are void and entering into an agreement (or offering to do so), as well as giving or receiving payment are prohibited. Any advertising in relation to surrogacy is also prohibited.[132]

In May 2008, a parliamentary committee was formed to examine whether to decriminalise altruistic surrogacy in Queensland. Commercial surrogacy has already been ruled out.[133][134] The committee is scheduled to submit their report to Parliament by the end of September.

Socially-infertile women (lesbians) are permitted access to IVF treatment in Queensland.

South Australia

The Family Relationships Act 1975 (SA) made surrogacy illegal and surrogacy contracts void. It also states that a woman who gives birth to a child is the mother of the child, regardless of genetics. The Act does not include a provision for parentage applying to same-sex couples. [135]

The Statutes Amendment (Surrogacy) Bill 2008 which legalised gestational surrogacy for heterosexual couples was passed by the Parliament of South Australia on 18 June 2008. However an amendment introduced by Labor MP Ian Hunter that would have allowed anyone in a same sex relationship access to gestational surrogacy was rejected.[136]

The Reproductive Technology (Clinical Practices) Act 1988 (SA) states that artificial fertilisation procedures are only for the benefit of married couples (husband and/or wife) who appear to be infertile. In 1996 the Supreme Court of South Australia found that the restriction of access to treatment on the basis of marital status contravened the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth). Lesbian women who are single or in a relationship currently have access to IVF treatment, but they must be considered to be "medically infertile".


The Status of Children Act 1974 states that the woman who gives birth to the child is the mother, regardless of genetics. The Act makes no mention of same-sex couples, however a report by the Joint Standing Committee on Community Development proposed amending the Act to recognise the lesbian partner as a parent via the Relationships (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2003 but it failed to pass.[137]

The Surrogacy Contracts Act 1993 made surrogacy illegal and surrogacy contracts void.[138] In April 2008, altruistic surrogacy in Tasmania began undergoing a parliamentary inquiry after the nation's Attorneys-General agreed to develop a uniform framework to allow conditional, non-commercial surrogacy.[139]


In May 1988, Victoria became the first State in Australia in which a child was born by use of IVF surrogacy. In July 1988, sections 11, 12, and 13 of the Infertility (Medical Procedures) Act 1984 were commenced to prevent a repetition of IVF surrogacy in Victoria, by prohibiting the use of IVF technology on women who have not been diagnosed as infertile and rendering commercial and altruistic surrogacy arrangements void.[140] In addition, only women who were married or in de facto relationships with men were allowed access to treatment.

On 28 July 2000, re McBain v State of Victoria, Justice Sundberg of the Federal Court of Australia concluded that the Victorian legislation infringed the prohibition on discrimination found in section 22 of the Sex Discrimination Act. This eliminated any marriage requirement, but did not clearly address the medical needs requirement. This legal decision has opened the door for lesbian couples to use IVF procedures.[141][142]

In June 2007, the Victorian Law Reform Commission released its final report recommending that the laws be modified to allow more people to use assisted reproductive technologies and to allow same-sex couples to adopt and be recognized as parents to their partner's children.[143] The proposed changes would also mean drastic reforms to surrogacy which, while technically legal, was practically impossible in Victoria: a woman would no longer have to be clinically infertile to be a surrogate mother. And parents who have children through surrogacy would be able to go to the County Court and apply for a "substitute parenting order" for legal recognition.[144] Birth certificates could use the word parent instead of mother and father.[145]

Victoria is expected to adopt almost all of the 130 recommendations of the Victorian Law Reform Commission in legislation which is expected to be introduced to Parliament in mid-2008.[146] This will make IVF legal for all women (except sex offenders), and gives same-sex partners, as well as parents of surrogate children, greater parenting rights.[147] Female partners of birth mothers will be recognized as parents of IVF children. Altruistic surrogacy would become legal, while commercial surrogacy would remain illegal. The Government stopped short of allowing same-sex couples full adoption rights.[148]

Western Australia

The Human Reproductive Technology Act 1991 (WA) established that in order to use any ART, a woman must be unable to conceive a child due to medical reasons (clinical infertility) and "persons seeking to be treated as a couple must be married or in a de facto relationship and must be of the opposite sex to each other".[149]

In 2002, the Artificial Conception Act 1985 was amended to deal with lesbian couples. It stated that, where a woman who is in a de facto relationship with another woman undergoes, with the consent of her de facto partner, an artificial fertilisation procedure, the de facto partner of the pregnant woman is conclusively presumed to be a parent of the unborn child and is a parent of any child born as a result of the pregnancy.[150]

Western Australia’s Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages allows for registration of a parent other than a ‘mother’ and/or ‘father’ on the birth documents of the child. The birth registration form provides same-sex couples with the option of describing themselves as ‘mother’ and ‘parent’; ‘mother’ and ‘mother’; or ‘parent’ and ‘parent’. Provided proper consent has been given by both the woman and her same-sex partner, the partner will conclusively be presumed to be the parent of any resulting child.

Western Australia currently has no laws relating to surrogacy, however the Surrogacy Bill 2007 would allow the practice in Western Australia. The bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly (Lower House) in September 2007, and has been referred to Standing Committee on Legislation within the Legislative Council (Upper House) in November 2007. It was expected to be debated by a second reading of the Bill around April 2008.[151]

Other areas of LGBT rights

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service bans blood donations from men who have had sex with men in the previous twelve months, as does the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and 48 states of the United States. No other countries or jurisdictions have such policies or have repealed them. The policy was challenged in 2005 and is still before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission. The "final" hearing will be in May 2008.[152][153]

See also: Australian Red Cross Blood Service#Infectious diseases

Opposition groups

Political Groups

The Liberal Party of Australia is a socially conservative party, although it has a minority socially liberal wing. In recent years, under John Howard, it has moved to a more conservative policy agenda.

The Nationals is a socially conservative party, Opposes LGBT adoption, same-sex marriage, IVF, civil unions, The Nationals Party is opposed to most if not all legal rights for same-sex couples.

The Family First Party policies emphasise socially conservative family values. Family First, a minor political party, opposes LGBT adoption, IVF treatment for lesbians, and opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions, stating their declaration of marriage as "a union of a man and a woman".[154]

The Christian Democratic Party, a minor conservative political party established in 1977, concentrates almost exclusively on moral issues such as Abortion, homosexuality and pornography, and has recently made opposition to same-sex marriage a major part of its platform.

The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) is a minor, socially conservative political party in Australia that opposes same-sex rights and same-sex marriage.

Religious Groups

The Australian Christian Lobby, formed in 1995, and the Australian Family Association, formed in 1980, strongly oppose same-sex rights such as adoption and marriage.

Peter Jensen, Archbishop of the Evangelical Anglican Diocese of Sydney, has vigorously opposed homosexuality, stating that accepting homosexuality is "calling holy what God called sin."[155] Leaders of the Anglican Church of Australia have called for the removal of the proposed ACT Civil Union legislation, because they "believe this proposal actually threatens and compromises the traditional Christian view of marriage between a man and a woman."[156]

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, considered Australia's most important Islamic organisation, came out strongly against removing discrimination against same-sex partners in federal law. Chairman Ikebal Patel said such moves would threaten the "holy relationship" of marriage between a man and woman and the core values of supporting families.[157]

The Salt Shakers is a Christian Ethics Action Group based in Melbourne, Victoria. It includes people from a number of Christian denominations and provides resources to Christians and churches. They also operate in the public arena by consulting, lobbying and presenting a Christian perspective on issues affecting society. This includes sending press releases, giving interviews for current affairs and other programs, making submissions to government, monitoring TV standards. They believe homosexuality is a sin.[158]

The Christian organisation Exclusive Brethren ran full page advertisements in various newspapers to criticise Tasmanian Greens' pro-Gay policies such as same-sex marriage (as well as gay adoption and fostering, something already partially recognised by Tasmanian law) in the lead up to the 2006 Tasmanian State Election.[159]

Summary table

Template:LGBT rights Australia


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Additional references and sources

History and Activism

Adoption and Parenting


See also

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