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Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 5808

Ms PLIBERSEK (Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women) (9:33 AM) —I am really looking forward—and I know you will be as well, Mr Deputy Speaker—to seeing the Wear It With Pride campaign that I am going to be involved with next week in Sydney. It is an initiative that has received funding from the federal government and will be run by the AIDS Council of New South Wales on behalf of the National LGBT Health Alliance. The campaign is designed to let members of the gay and lesbian community know about their rights following this government’s removal of discrimination against same-sex couples, lesbians and gay men from 85 pieces of federal legislation. To celebrate that milestone, 85 designers are producing 85 T-shirts inspired by each of the reforms, which will then be worn by influential Australians to spread the campaign’s message to the community.

The Wear It With Pride website says:

These historic 85 reforms reward decades of protesting.

I think it is really worth remembering that many of the people who will be participating in this campaign would have fought 20 years ago for the legalisation of homosexuality. They would have fought for the changes to the Commonwealth superannuation schemes, social security, taxation, Medicare benefits and so on for decades. They would have grown up at not just a time when it was a secret that you were gay or lesbian but a time when you could be arrested for simply forming a relationship with someone of the same gender. We have come a long way and it is a very proud day that these 85 reforms have gone through the Australian parliament and we are able to promote them in this way.

In the last three years these reforms have covered many areas. In public office, same-sex partners are being recognised equally if they work for the government, the defence forces or as a judge. In parenting, families are regulated by the Federal Court in areas like parental responsibilities, child support, maintenance and so on. In the workplace, the Fair Work Act means that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender employees under the federal system are protected from discrimination and specifically included in leave set aside for couples, like unpaid leave and carers leave. In relationships, same-sex couples are defined within de facto relationships for social security purposes, in financial areas like taxation and superannuation, and in health and ageing for purposes of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the extended Medicare safety net. Couples will also be able to exempt their homes from an asset test when one member moves into aged care but the other remains in the home. Immigration is also included. I represent an area, as you do, I know, Mr Deputy Speaker Bevis, where a great number of same-sex couples live and I know these reforms will make an enormous difference to their lives. They are long fought for and hard won, and I am very proud to be part of a government that has delivered them.