In VGLRL's 2005 same-sex relationships survey results, 98.1% of respondents supported the need for better legal recognition of same sex relationships. You can find a copy of the report, Not Yet Equal, here (Not Yet Equal)
State relationship register
The VGLRL considers all unmarried couples, regardless of their sex, gender identity of sexual orientation, should be entitled to register their relationship and supports the establishment of a statutory relationship register in Victoria.
A relationship register can enable same-sex couples to access legal rights that can otherwise be difficult to access. Currently, Victorian laws treat same-sex couples on the same basis as heterosexual de-facto couples in a range of important areas, including: inheritance rights, stamp duty exemption, a system for property division upon breakdown of a relationship, accident and workers compensation, state superannuation, recognition as 'next of kin' for autopsies and tissue donation, disclosure of health information, and protection from discrimination on the basis of marital status.
Despite this, same-sex couples may experience difficulties in proving their 'domestic partnership' and in some circumstances this can prevent same-sex couples from accessing their legal entitlements. The lack of a simple way of proving their relationship serves as an inhibitor to people claiming the rights that accrue to their relationship status. Married couples have a marriage certificate.
A relationship register is also necessary to give effect to the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (link), which provides that all people shall be treated with equality and dignity and be free from discrimination. Civil union schemes have been established in a number of foreign jurisdictions, including New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa. Some of these schemes have been instituted to give effect to rights protected in charters of human rights in those jurisdictions.
The VGLRL has produced a briefing paper that has been provided to the Victorian Government on the operation of a relationship register. You can access the briefing paper here (insert link). The Lobby has also provided some examples of how the register will help Victorians in same-sex couples. For more information, see here (insert link).
The Victorian Government has now committed to establishing a state-wide relationship register, for all couples including same-sex couples. Click here to access the Government's media release. [http://www.dpc.vic.gov.au/domino/Web_Notes/newmedia.nsf/798c8b072d117a01ca256c8c0019bb01/3d7bd0a5485fbe0eca2572c900023971!OpenDocument] The register, similar to that which operates in Tasmania [link: http://www.justice.tas.gov.au/bdm/relationships], would be open to all couples, and provide them proof that they are in a relationship.
The VGLRL has provided a submission to the Victorian Government outlining how we believe the relationship register should operate in Victoria. You can access a copy of our submission here (link).
Municipal relationship registers
Both the Melbourne City Council and the Yarra City Council have now established relationship registers. The VGLRL encourages any person in a same-sex relationship living in Victoria to access these registers.
For more information about the registers, see here (Melbourne CC) (http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/info.cfm?top=208&pg=3483) and here (Yarra CC) (http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/Council/Governance/Relationship%20Declaration%20Register.asp)
Federal relationship recognition
The VGLRL strongly urges the Federal Government to remove all discrimination against de-facto same-sex couples under federal legislation. The VGLRL also believes that non-discriminatory marriage should be available to all couples, regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.
In June 2005, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission released its report, Same-Sex: Same Entitlements, which provided an overview of all federal legislation that discriminates against same-sex couples. HREOC listed 58 pieces of federal legislation. You can review the final report here (http://www.hreoc.gov.au/samesex).
The VGLRL provided two submissions to the HREOC's inquiry. You can access those submissions here and here (add links). The VGLRL is actively lobbying the Government to legislate HREOC's recommendations, and is supporting the bill introduced into Parliament by the Australian Democrats (link). This bill, if passed, should ensure that same-sex couples are treated on an equal basis with other couples in the range of federal laws identified by HREOC.
In 2004, the Federal Government amended the Marriage Act to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. This blatant discrimination against same-sex couples sparked the VGLRL's campaign, Equal Love. Click here for more information about the Equal Love campaign and its aims (link).
We are concerned Australia is falling behind the rest of the world in the recognition of same-sex relationships. Internationally, there is a growing trend towards legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Same sex marriage is legal in these jurisdictions:
The Netherlands (2001)
Massachusetts, USA (2004)
South Africa (2006)
Civil unions are recognised in these jurisdictions:
New Zealand (2005)
United Kingdom (2005)
Slovenia (by 2006)
Switzerland (Approved 2005; Expected implemented 2007)