In 2001 the Victorian Parliament passed the Statute Law Amendment (Relationships) Act and the Statute Law Further Amendment (Relationships) Act, giving same-sex couples legal recognition in a number of areas.
The main ones are:
- a system for property division if you split up,
- accident and workers compensation if your partner dies,
- partner’s State superannuation,
- recognition as ‘next of kin’ for autopsies and tissue donation,
- disclosure of partner’s health information,
- protection from discrimination on the basis of marital status,
- recognition as a parent of a non-biological child in some cases.
These Acts do not create new rights specific to gay men and lesbians – rather, they reduce previous discrimination.
Not all Victorian Acts have been amended in this way. A notable exception is that gay and lesbian couples don’t yet have the right to adopt children, and may still face discrimination in the use of assisted reproductive technology in Victoria (see Becoming a Parent).
Concept of domestic partner
These Acts create a new category of relationships, called ‘domestic partner’. This covers all couples who aren’t married, regardless of their gender. There are two definitions of ‘domestic partner’ – these are discussed in the Relationships section under Domestic Partner–Two Types.
See Table: Which definition of domestic partner applies?
No effect on federal law
These Acts amend Victorian law only. They do not give lesbians and gay men the right to marry as this is federal law. Nor do they affect the status of gay and lesbian parents under the Family Law Act, which is a federal Act.