25,000 sign petition for gay rights in Australia
The Prime Minister of Australia John Howard will be presented with a petition today demanding an end to discrimination against same-sex couples.
An MP from his own party will hand him a copy of the online petition, which has been signed by 25,000 people.
It follows a report released in June by Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission which highlighted the 58 laws that need to be changed to grant gay, bisexual and lesbian Australians equal rights.
The commission’s report found that same-sex couples and families get fewer leave entitlements, less workers’ compensation, fewer tax concessions, fewer veterans’ entitlements, fewer health care subsidies, less superannuation and pay more for residential aged care than opposite-sex couples in the same circumstances.
The report traced this pervasive inequality back to how lesbian and gay couples are excluded from federal law’s definitions of couples, partners and spouses.
Federal Liberal MP Warren Entsch, who is from Queensland, told news.com.au that the petition:
“Shows that support for removal of financial and legal discrimination is very significant and I’ll be taking to the PM. He already says he doesn’t support discrimination and the HREOC report shows there’s a way forward.”
Other politicians welcomed the recommendations to equalise treatment for an estimated 20,000 same-sex couples in tax, pensions, old age care, health benefits and insurance.
Prime Minister Howard’s Liberal government passed federal legislation in 2004 banning same-sex marriage and earlier this year he proposed that HIV positive immigrants should not be allowed into the country.
“We are not in favour of discrimination, but of course our views on the nature of marriage in our community are very well-known and they won’t be changing,” Mr Howard said in an interview with Sky television in June.
Last month The Attorney General of Australia, Philip Ruddock, told gay activists that he is working on proposals to bring before the country’s Cabinet.
Mr Howard is due to stand for re-election at the end of this year.