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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21893


Mr Danby asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 11 September 2003:

(1) Is he aware of the ruling by the Human Rights Committee (HRC) of the United Nations in the case of Young v Australia; if so, (a) what are the details of the HRC ruling, and (b) what did the HRC say about section 5E of the Veterans' Entitlement Act 1986.

(2) Is the HRC decision binding in (a) domestic law, and (b) international law.

(3) Is the Government under an obligation to respond to the findings of the HRC; if so, what is the Government's response.

(4) Is the Government considering which other Commonwealth laws and payments may be affected by the decision of the HRC; if so, is he able to say which laws and payments may be affected.

(5) Is he aware of the statement by the Prime Minister on 24 August 2001 to the effect that he is opposed to discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.

(6) Will he introduce legislation to ensure that Australia complies with international law in respect of these matters.


Mr Ruddock (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I am aware that on 6 August 2003 the Human Rights Committee adopted views, under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights concerning communication 941/2000 submitted on behalf of Mr Edward Young.

(a) The Human Rights Committee expressed the view that Australia has violated article 26 of the Covenant by denying the author, Mr Edward Young, a pension under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 on the basis of his sex or sexual orientation.

(b) With respect section 5E of the Veterans' Entitlement Act 1986, the Human Rights Committee found that as a same sex partner, Mr Edward Young “did not have the possibility of entering into marriage. Neither was he recognized as a cohabiting partner of Mr. C, for the purpose of receiving pension benefits, because of his sex or sexual orientation.”

(2) Views adopted by Human Rights Committee are not binding on Australia in domestic or international law.

(3) The Government has been requested by the Human Rights Committee to provide information about the measures taken to give effect to the views. The Government is currently considering the Committee's views.

(4) As indicated, the Government is considering the Committee's views and cannot comment further at this stage.

(5) Yes.

(6) As indicated, the Government is considering the Committee's views. The Government does not acknowledge that Australia has failed to comply with international law.