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Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Bill 2007 [2008]

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Explanatory Memorandum




Senator Allison



On 21 June 2007, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) released a report titled Same-Sex: Same Entitlements , which identified 58 Commonwealth laws that deny same-sex couples and their children basic financial and work-related entitlements available to opposite-sex couples and their children. The primary purpose of the Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Bill 2007 is to implement the recommendations of that report.


The bill removes from Australian laws statutory provisions which encourage or allow discrimination in areas including taxation, superannuation, employment and family law against people in de facto relationships, on the grounds of their gender identity or sexual orientation, with the intention of complying with Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child .


The bill establishes a definition of ‘de facto relationship’ based largely on the judgment of Powell J in Roy v Sturgeon (1986) 11 NSWLR 454 (at 458-9). Under the definition, a de facto relationship is a relationship between two people living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis and may be between two people, irrespective of gender. This definition is inserted into a series of acts and regulations, as outlined in Schedule 1.


The bill also changes various laws to recognise the relationship between a child and both parents in a same-sex relationship, with the purpose of protecting the best interests of the child and complying with Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child .