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Recognition of unmarried defence personnel must include gays.



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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Brian Greig Democrats Senator for Western Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Sexuality Issues

Dated: 07 April 2005

Press Release Number: 05/161 Portfolio: Sexuality Issues Related: Defence & Veterans

Recognition of Unmarried Defence Personnel must Include Gays

The Australian Democrats welcome Kim Beazley's insistence that unmarried partners of military personnel killed in last week's helicopter tragedy should receive compensation and support, but want to ensure this compassion is also extended to defence personnel in same-sex relationships.

Democrats spokesperson for Sexuality Issues, Senator Brian Greig says this tragedy brings sharply into focus the devastation of losing loved ones and life partners.

There are many Defence personnel in same-sex relationships who risk their lives though military and humanitarian service, and they understandably want to be assured that their partners would be looked after if anything should happen to them, Senator Greig said.

For many years, the Democrats have been working hard to secure equal access to benefits, entitlements and compensation for same-sex couples serving in the military, but we have been thwarted at every turn by both the Liberal and Labor parties.

I am pleased that John Howard and Kim Beazley recognise that loving, committed relationships are not determined by a marriage certificate. Now, Id like to see them acknowledge that lifelong love and commitment is not restricted to heterosexual couples, Senator Greig said.

In 2003, as Australian troops headed overseas to fight in Iraq, the Democrats called for grief counselling, death benefits compensation and surviving spouses pensions to apply to the loved ones and families of same-sex partners in the ADF. This Motion passed the Senate with Labor support.

But in 2004, Democrats amendments to the military rehabilitation and compensation bill that ensured same-sex couples would be equally recognised in the event of injury or death of a loved one, were defeated when Labor failed to insist on them.

If we ask people to be prepared to help, fight and even die for our country and its interests, then it is utterly unacceptable that we treat them as second class citizens and their families and loved ones with indifference and disdain, Senator Greig said.

The ban on lesbian and gay people serving in the military was lifted in 1992, however none of the rights and benefits extended to married and de facto ADF members have yet been granted to those in long term same-sex relationships.

Media Contact Di Graham 08) 9228 3133 or 0417 177 523