Tassie Gives Gays New Rights
Australian, 25th September, 2002
GPO Box 4162 Sydney NSW 2001 Australia
By Carol Altmann
After years of derision as a hotbed of homophobia, Tasmania is poised to
have the nationís most progressive laws for same-sex couplesóand just
about every other variety of significant personal relationship.
Under the proposed reforms, gay and lesbian couples, elderly couples in
close but not necessarily sexual relationships, partnerships recognised under
Aboriginal or ethnic customs, plus carers and those they care for, will be
among those granted the same rights as married or de facto heterosexual
The Bacon Government used the first day of the 45th state parliament
yesterday to make the surprise announcement of the amendment to more than 12 0
pieces of legislation.
The revised laws would cover a range of rights including property
transfers, child maintenance, organ donation, guardianship, access to a
partner in hospital, superannuation, funerals, wills; and various parenting,
family and carer leave entitlements.
"The Tasmanian law in relation to many areas is deficient and
discriminatory when dealing with parties to non-traditional personal
relationships," Attorney-General Judy Jackson said yesterday.
"This is not about morality. Itís about human rights and the respect
for the equal dignity of all persons without discrimination," she said.
Male homosexual sex was illegal in Tasmania until 1997, when the
anti-sodomy law was finally repealed.
Liberal Opposition Leader Rene Hidding said he retained an open mind on the
reforms, but was keen to see the scope of the legislation before indicating
"The concept of a relationship being put forward ranges from a woman
in a wheelchair who may have a male carer, through to gay marriages with the
ability to adopt children," Mr Hidding said.
"Now that is quite a broad range, and we will be interested to see
just how far this current Attorney-General wants to go with these reforms.
There are some extremely serious matters contained within this."
The proposed reforms grew from a joint select committee report last year
into relationship discrimination that recommended amendments to the De Facto
Veteran Tasmanian gay rights activist Rodney Croome said the reform package
would place the state at the top of the nation for relationship rights.
"The real beauty of this is that it takes the best from other states
and combines them into one package," he said. "This puts Tasmania
ahead of the rest of Australia."
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