Monday, 2 June 2008

Threat to stall same-sex reforms

AFTER fighting for years for equal recognition before the law, gay and lesbian couples face another wait because of Coalition threats to delay the Government's legislation.

Opposition's legal affairs spokesman, George Brandis, would push at today's meeting of the shadow cabinet for the Coalition to use its numbers and send the legislation to a Senate committee. The legislation, which Labor promised before the election, removes discrimination against gay couples in about 100 areas of Commonwealth law.

It does not bestow the right to marriage but gives gay couples the same rights as heterosexual de facto couples in sharing benefits such as Commonwealth superannuation and veterans' benefits.

Labor wants the legislation, which is before Parliament, passed before July 1. Any delay could push the debate back until September, leaving it at the mercy of the new Senate.

John Challis, of the CompSuper Action Committee, said he was appalled at Senator Brandis's plans. Gays would be denied the satisfaction of being recognised as equals of heterosexual de facto couples.

"It's charity, it's not social justice," Mr Challis said. "It's got nothing to do with equality between gay and heterosexual couples."


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