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
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.
No states or territories have sodomy laws.
State/Territory Age of Sexual Consent:
New South Wales..............*16*******South Australia............17
Australian Capital Territory..16*******Victoria...................16
Queensland....................16 for oral sex & 18 for anal sex
* 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.
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)
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.
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
High Court of Australia
Queensland Court of Appeal
Australian Coalition for Equality
Australian Marriage Equality
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