08/05/2008

I wish to congratulate the federal government on its plan to remove discriminatory provisions from commonwealth laws in areas like superannuation, tax, health, aged care and other entitlements. These measures are long overdue and will have a positive benefit on the lives of thousands of Australians. Children of same-sex couples will be regarded in the same way as any other children in terms of a range of entitlements.

Unfortunately the anti-discriminatory provisions do not extend to equal access to marriage, adoption or IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) for same-sex couples. The government says that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, so it will not amend the Marriage Act. The fact is that marriage is what we say it is.

If we want marriage to be a non-discriminatory, inclusive institution, then we can make it so. If we do not do that and do not remove barriers to same-sex adoption and IVF, then we are not fair dinkum about equality.

Defenders of the current definition of marriage say that marriage must be exclusive to a man and a woman and is necessary for the raising of children. This is not a reflection of reality. Many people marry with no intention of having children. Many children grow up in stable and loving families with same-sex or opposite-sex partners who are not married, and sadly there are many children who are neglected and abused in families where their parents are married.

It is beyond the time that all remnants of discrimination in our laws and practices were removed once and for all. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the review of the Equal Opportunity Act in Victoria.