2007-08 ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
The Relationships Register
On 1 December 2008, the Relationships Bill 2007 will become law. This Bill was passed in April 2008 and enjoyed support from both sides of the political spectrum. The bill will establish a register where couples, regardless of gender, can register their relationships with the Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Assisted Reproductive Technology
As we write this report, the State Government has introduced the long anticipated Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill 2008. The Bill encapsulates almost all of the legal reforms suggested by the VLRC's Assisted Reproductive Technology & Adoption Report released in 2007. The Bill will allow equal access to reproductive technologies and protect our families by removing uncertainty of parenting that presently exists in same-sex families. The Lobby notes that reforms regarding adoption by same-sex couples are absent, however the issue of adoption is being considered by the Committee of Community and Services Ministers, seeking to make adoption laws consistent across Australia. The Lobby is carefully monitoring the progress of this issue and is responding to any developments as and when they occur
Same Sex, Same Entitlements Federal Reforms
In June 2008, the new Federal Government began rolling out the bills to remove the legal discrimination against same-sex couples in finance and workplace entitlements. The first tranche of these bills were:
· Same Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – Superannuation) Bill 2008, which addressed Commonwealth employee superannuation and reversion pension entitlements by treating same sex couples and their children equally with different sex couples
· Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and other matters) Bill 2008 which will have the effect of enabling the Family Court to hear disputes of family breakdown of different sex and same sex (de facto) couples
· Evidence Amendment Bill 2008, which extends the doctrine of spousal immunity to same sex couples.
As we write this report, a further Bill, the Same Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Bill 2008 is being referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Inquiry. This Bill seeks to extend the definition of de facto to same sex couples on over 50 other Acts.
Events in 2007-08
Meet the Candidates Forum – November 2007 – held at Stingo's Hotel Collingwood with a range of Federal candidates. Around 140 people attended. A policy score card was produced by the Lobby.
Human Rights Conference – January 2008 – Aly M and Gerard Brody presented a paper as part of the Outgames Human Rights Conference.
Midsumma – January 2008 – VGLRL maintained its presence at Carnival and other events, but the proposed Mass Debate fundraiser was cancelled. 'I can see queerly now' and 'Love makes a family' T-shirts were released.
Pride March – February 2008 – A small but committed contigent carried the banner down Fitzroy St to an appreciative cheer.Chill out – March 2008
MQFF Panel Discussion – March 2008 – MQFF invited the Lobby to participate in a panel discussion following the film 'inlaws and outlaws'.
Equal Love National Day of Action – 3 August 2008 – around 400 people gathered to show their support, with 20 people making Midwinta vows. Speakers included Bronwyn Pike, Alison Thorne, James Vigus and Demetra Giannakopoulos, with Luke Gallagher as MC.
The Lobby made submission on a range of topics including:
· Equal Opportunity Review (Vic)
· Equal Opportunity Exceptions Review (Vic)
· 2020 Summit (C'th)
· Commonwealth Senate InquiriesAdditionally the Lobby has been instrumental in the establishment of an interim Advisory Committee on LGBTIQ issues to the Commonwealth Government.
Stephen Jones and Demetra Giannakopoulos
Co-convenors to 2008 AGM
OFFICER POSITIONS TO 2008 AGM:
Female Co-convenor: Demetra Giannokopolous
Male Co-convenor: Stephen Jones
Secretary: Amanda Watkinson (replaced by Hayley Conway)
Treasurer: Brendan Parker (replaced by Sally Goldner)
WORKING GROUPS DURING THE 07-08 YEAR
Membership and Volunteers: Joseph Crichton
Policy: Alastair Lawrie and Gerard Brody
OUTCOMES OF AGM 2008:
'Family' was added as a new category of membership.
A special general meeting was held on 15 May 2008 to redefine the Committee of Management membership from:
(a) four people who identy as lesbian
(b) four people who identify as gay men
(c) two non-identified positions
(a) four women who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or same sex attracted;
(b) four men who identify as gay, bisexual, queer or same sex attracted;
(c) two non-identified positions.
Both motions were adopted.