AUSTRALIA

NATIONAL LAWS

Australia does not outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation at the federal level. However, in response to Australia's obligation to implement the principle of non-discrimination in employment and occupation pursuant to the International Labour Organisation Convention No.111 (ILO 111), the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC) Act empowers the HREOC to investigate complaints of discrimination in employment and occupation on various grounds, including sexual preference, and to resolve such complaints by conciliation. It is important to note that such discrimination is not rendered unlawful under the Act.

The Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 limits the marriage contract to be between a man and a woman. Thus the Commonwealth, even through use of the external affairs power, could not permit same-sex marriage.

Allows foreign partners of its homosexual citizenry to receive residency permits.

In 1992, the Australian Defence Force changed its rules regarding homosexual members of the forces. Previously obliged to leave the services, homosexuals not only gained the right to be accepted and not to be dismissed on the basis of sexuality alone, but also gained access to certain of the benefits available to other ADF members although certainly not to all.

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission decided Feb. 3, 1995 that homosexual federal workers can have limited access to Family Leave Benefits.

The Federal Police extend spousal rights to same-sex couples.

Blocks offensive material on the Internet, requires the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) to classify verbal and visual material on the Internet much as it does films, with X-rated material banned from servers in Australia and R-rated material accessible only to those confirmed as at least 18 years of age. Ratings are made primarily in response to complaints received, with the assistance of a community/industry advisory body. The ABA is able to order an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to remove X-rated items within a day, with daily fines of A$5,500 for individuals and of A$27,500 for corporations for failure to comply. In cases of pornographic Web sites created in Australia, it is the creator and not the ISP who will be liable for the fine. This law provides the legal foundation for a swath of complaints against lesbian and gay Web sites to be lodged with the regulatory authority. Every small-minded and homophobic bigot in the country will be able to haul a whole range of gay and lesbian organizations before the authorities and force them to justify their presence on the Internet.

Gay members of Parliament can take their lovers on official overseas trips at government expense.

The Crimes Act outlaws consensual sex with minors for citizens of Australia who engage in the trade overseas, imposing sentences of up to 17 years' imprisonment.

Gay soldiers, pilots and sailors in the Australian Defence Force are entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual couples. This means equal benefits in housing, moving stipends, education assistance and leave entitlements. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will acknowledge personnelís same-sex partnerships as "interdependent relationships." These benefits apply only to ADF members who are involved in interdependent relationships with a same-sex partner. To be recognised as interdependent, same-sex partners will have to show they have a "close personal relationship" that involves domestic and financial support.


STATE/TERRITORY LAWS

No states or territories have sodomy laws.


State/Territory Age of Sexual Consent:

New South Wales..............*16*******South Australia............17

Northern Territory...........*16*******Tasmania..................*17

Australian Capital Territory..16*******Victoria...................16

Queensland....................16 for oral sex & 18 for anal sex

Western Australia.............16

* Indicates there are no laws regarding lesbian sex.


In Northern Territory group sex is prohibited, sex involving more than two people is considered public sex.

Western Australia prohibits the provision of information on homosexual matters to people who are or think they may be, homosexual, and who are under the age of 21.

The heterosexual age of sexual consent is 16 in all but 2 states, in Tasmania and South Australia it is 17.

Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia ban donor insemination services to lesbians.

Queensland bans gays and lesbians from foster parenting.


States with Anti-Discrimination laws based on Sexual Orientation:

Austrailian Capital Territory Employment, education, access to premises, goods, services and facilities, accommodation, clubs, and requests for information.

Queensland Lawful sexual activity only. Work involving the care or instruction of minors is exempted.

New South Wales Employment, accommodation, education, the provision of goods, services, and club membership or benefits. Churches are exempted.

Northern Territory Inter alia employment, education, accomodation, goods, services, facilities and clubs. Work involving the care or instruction of minors is exempted.

South Australia Inter alia employment, associations, trades unions, education, land, goods, services, and accommodation. Exempts discrimination on the basis of dress, appearance and behaviour that is characteristic of a person's sexuality.

Tasmania Employment, also bans incitement of hatred and severe ridicule based on sexual orientation.

Victoria Lawful sexual activity, employment, education, provision of goods and services, disposal of land, accommodation, clubs and club members, sports, local government. Work involving the care or instruction of minors is exempted.


States with Domestic Partner laws for Same-Sex couples:

Austrailian Capital Territory Distribution of property and finances in the event of a seperation, inheritance in the event of death.

New South Wales The Workers Compensation Act now include same-sex couples. The Victims Compensation Act and the Criminal Procedure Act have also been reformed to include same-sex couples. Previously, under the Workers Compensation Act, entitlements were only extended to a heterosexual worker's dependent spouse and children. The Act now includes dependent same-sex partners, parents and siblings.

Northern Territory Members of the Legislative Assembly in the Northern Territory can take their same-sex partners with them on overseas trips at taxpayer expense, the territorial Remuneration Tribunal ruled on 12-9-03. The tribunal redefined a de-facto spouse as a "person who is not married to the Member, but is in a marriage-like relationship with the Member."

Queensland Allows couples in same-sex relationships who are victims of relationship violence to take out domestic voilence orders against a violent partner, and other protective measures, including counseling services.

South Australia Extends superannuation entitlements under four state superannuation acts to allow same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Tasmania The Relationships Act allows same-sex couples to register their union with the state's Registry of Births, Death and Marriages. Gives homosexuals rights in making decisions about their partner's health, provides for guardianship when a partner is incapacitated, and gives homosexuals equal access to their partner's public sector pensions. Allows homosexuals to adopt the biological child of their partner.

Victoria Gives same-sex couples some rights equal to those enjoyed by de facto couples, including hospital access, medical decision making, superannuation inheritance rights, property tax, landlord/tenancy rights, mental health treatment and victims of crime procedures.

Western Australia Allows same-sex couples equal access to adoption procedures and in vitro fertilization treatment. It also gives same-sex couples the same rights as opposite sex couples in areas such as transfer of property, medical treatment, and inheritance upon the death of a partner.


OTHER INFO

Glenorchy, Tasmania has a social plan that includes tackling prejudice against sexual and gender minorities. The city has committed itself to goals which include reducing the number of LGBT people who experience discrimination, increasing the percentage of teachers trained in sexuality issues and changing community attitudes to sexual and gender minorities.

Melbourne, Victoria has a Relationship Declaration Register. The register cannot legally protect the rights of a couple in a same-sex relationship, but is a means of recognizing the relationship status of couples, irrespective of gender.

The politition links below will take you to other web sites. They are not part of the Gay Rights Info web site, you will need to use your browser back button to return to this page. These links will take you to the most informative sites I could find on each of these people. Some of the links will not have much information, but they will serve to let you know that the member is still in office.

Openly Homosexual Politicians/Judges & Justices:

Bob Brown (Australian Greens), Senator, Tasmania.

Penny Wong (Australian Labor Party), Senator, South Australia.

Michael Donald Kirby, High Court Justice.

Andrew Barr (Australian Labor Party), Legislative Assembly, Australian Capital Territory.

Penelope Gail Sharpe (Australian Labor Party), Legislative Council, New South Wales.

John Norman Hyde (Australian Labor Party), Legislative Assembly, Western Australia (Perth).

Louise Clare Pratt (Australian Labor Party), Legislative Council, Western Australia (East Metropolitan).

Giz Watson (Greens (WA)), Legislative Council, Western Australia (North Metropolitan).

Gary Singer, Deputy Lord Mayor, Melbourne, Victoria

Thang Ngo, City Council, Fairfield, New South Wales (Cabramatta Ward).

Shayne Mallard (Liberal Party), City Council, City of Sydney, New South Wales.


Outspokenly Anti-Homosexual Politicians:

This list does not include all anti-homosexual polititions, others are indicated in my Australia voting records linked near the bottom of this page.

John Howard, Prime Minister.

Heather Mutimer, Shire Council, Hepburn Shire, Victoria (Coliban Ward).

(Bold name indicates extremely anti-gay)


COURT INFO

Victoria's ban on reproductive services for women not living with men was struck down by a Federal Court judge on July 28, 2000. Judge Ross Sundberg agreed with Melbourne fertility expert Dr. John McBain that the ban was in direct conflict with the federal law against marital status discrimination, which took precedence. The state chose to remain neutral during arguments. Sundberg allowed two entities of the Roman Catholic Church to argue in favor of the ban as friends of the court, but completely rejected their arguments that there is no inconsistency between the state and federal statutes. The state is now reviewing the decision, as is the federal government at the behest of a Senator, so there is the possibility of an appeal, but Victoria Premier Steve Bracks said his government would implement the judgment for now.

On April 18, 2002 the High Court of Australia rejected a challenge by the Catholic Church that would have prevented single women and lesbians from having access to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference appealed an earlier federal court decision in the state of Victoria, which ruled that restricting the women's access violated the Federal Sex Discrimination Act. The justices dismissed the case. The case focused on a single 40-year-old woman, Leesa Meldrum, who had been traveling to another state to receive IVF treatments.

On December 9, 2003 the High Court of Australia ordered the government's Refugee Review Tribunal to reexamine its earlier decision denying two gay men from Bangladesh their bid to obtain refugee status on the grounds they would be persecuted at home for their homosexuality. The men, who have lived together since 1994, came to Australia in February 1999 and applied for protection as refugees. The pair, whose names cannot be made public, said they had been ostracised by their families, stoned, whipped and put at risk of police bashings after being exposed as a gay couple. They also claimed their local Islamic council had issued a fatwah, or death sentence, against them that would be enforced if they returned home. Their application for refugee status was rejected by the Immigration Department, the Refugee Review Tribunal, the Federal Court and the Full Court of the Federal Court. In overturning those rulings, the High Court majority challenged a central tenet of the Refugee Review Tribunal's argument: that the two men had conducted themselves discreetly in the past and would not suffer harm if they continued to live discreetly in Bangladesh. The High Court majority held that the tribunal should have considered what might happen if the men were to live openly as a homosexual couple and rejected the notion that Bangladeshi homosexuals could be divided into two groups -- discreet and non-discreet. "By declaring that there was no reason to suppose that the appellants would not continue to act discreetly in the future, the tribunal effectively broke the genus of homosexual males in Bangladesh into two groups, discreet and non-discreet homosexual men in Bangladesh," it said. "By doing so, the tribunal fell into jurisdictional error that renders its decision of no force or effect." In launching the appeal eight months ago, the lawyer representing the couple, Bruce Levet, said the submission to the country's highest appeals court over the issue of homosexuality and right to asylum was a world first. Amnesty International also made a submission on the couple's behalf, describing the expectation of discretion in their homosexuality as a denial of their human rights.


I also maintain voting records, and records of court decisions in Australia.

Voting Records

Australia Senate

Australia House of Representatives

Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly

New South Wales Legislative Assembly

New South Wales Legislative Council

Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

Queensland Legislative Assembly

South Australia House of Assembly

South Australia Legislative Council

Tasmania House of Assembly

Tasmania Legislative Council

Victoria Legislative Assembly

Victoria Legislative Council

Western Australia Legislative Council

Western Australia Legislative Assembly

Court Decisions

High Court of Australia

Queensland Court of Appeal


Resources

Australian Coalition for Equality

Australian Marriage Equality


E-Mail: billmyers@bright.net

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