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HREOC report shows equality is long overdue.



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Media Statement Thursday 21st June 2007

SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT Queensland Democrat Senator QUEENSLAND’S ONLY INDEPENDENT VOICE IN THE SENATE

HREOC report shows equality is long overdue

Democrats’ Deputy Leader Senator Andrew Bartlett welcomed the tabling of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s report into discrimination against same-sex couples and has pledged to introduce legislation into the Senate as soon as possible to implement the changes.

"The Democrats first tabled legislation aimed at removing discrimination at federal level back in 1995. We will update our legislation to take HREOC's recommendations into account, and call on the government to support moves to eliminate all forms of discrimination against same-sex couples, Senator Bartlett said.

“We shouldn't hold our breath waiting for the Howard Government to end the widespread discrimination faced by same-sex couples that HREOC has so clearly catalogued, particularly in an election year.

“This Government clearly thinks that same sex couples are not entitled to be treated equally and fairly by the law. They have repeatedly and consistently refused to support measures which would extend the same benefits that apply to heterosexual couples, despite the Prime Minister's statements that he opposes such discrimination.

“This case of saying one thing and doing another is a cynical ploy that tries to placate both sides, but the simple reality is a continuation of unfair and discriminatory practices.

“Twelve months ago the Howard Government overturned the ACT's civil unions' legislation. In the last fortnight the Government has voted against our amendments to health legislation that would have treated same sex couples and families fairly when it comes to health care. Nothing has changed.

“There is no justification for the many legal inequalities that face people in same-sex unions and as today’s Galaxy poll indicates, there is strong public support for equality.

“The majority of Australians support recognition of same sex unions and an end to discrimination.

“If this Government genuinely believes that committed same sex relationships should be on an equal legal standing with opposite sex unions, it will move to fix the more than 60 federal laws that discriminate on precisely this basis. It's time for equality and for the Government to stop pandering to fundamentalists,” Senator Bartlett concluded.

Media contact - Tracee McPate - 0417 607 655

Electoral office: Suite 14 B1, 7/421 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006 t: 07 3252 7101 local call cost (Qld): 1300 301 879 f: 07 3252 8957 e: senator.bartlett@aph.gov.au web: www.andrewbartlett.com