After many years of campaigning for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people, there is still a long way to go for the community to achieve some of the recognition of heterosexual couples. Australia is one of the only western countries to have banned same-sex marriage. Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands to name a few have already implemented the legislation to make this possible.
The Howard Government continues to stand strong on its conservative ‘nuclear family’ stance and believes that a marriage or union should only be made between a male and a female. Rudd has announced that the ALP will support federal registration for same sex couples, but will not support legislation to allow same sex marriages or anything that quote “mimics marriage which may undermine the current laws as defining marriage between and man and woman”. The ALP policy, sounding frightening similar to Howard’s, has disappointed many who fight for the right of the LGBTI community.
What occurs for LGBTI people as are result of this continued perpetuation of the idea that they are not as equal or that they are different to heterosexuals is much more than just emotional pain, legal difficulties, and complications if children are involved – but also continued discrimination from those who continue to view a person’s sexuality as a choice.
LGBTI people are often faced with the choice of coming out at work and risking discrimination and harassment, or staying in the closet and telling lies about their private life. Homophobia in secondary schools continues, contributing to the high rate of suicide amongst LGBTI youth. There is alarming evidence that same-sex attracted young people are six times more likely to try to take their own life than for the population as a whole, and particularly for young men in country areas.
Socialists welcome the proposed reforms of the Victorian State Government to establish a registration scheme similar to that which has been operating in Tasmania. The proposed same-sex relationship registration scheme is a victory for the LGBTI movement.
However, these registries do not grant any additional rights to couples, but simplify many procedures under state law by providing a single piece of evidence proving the existence of a committed relationship. The effect that this registration may have in relation to Medicare, income tax and life insurance payments- both federal areas of law is not clear. The registers also do not allow for LGBTI couples to celebrate and formalize their relationships in the same way that heterosexuals are able to.
The Socialist Party fights for an end to all discrimination. We support full rights for LGBTI couples and the recognition of same sex domestic partnerships and marriages in law on an equal level with heterosexual couples. We call for an end to homophobic bullying in schools and in workplaces. All schools must include homophobia in their anti-bullying policies and teachers should receive training and support at a local and national level on handling homophobic bullying and LGBTI issues in the classroom. Workplaces must have strong and clear anti-discrimination legislation regulated and implemented by workers and unions.
By Denise Dudley