The ACT Labor Government has long led the way in progressing equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer people. We were the first to:
- Recognise same-sex relationships through the Domestic Partnerships Act in 1994, which granted unmarried heterosexual couples and same sex couples similar property rights to those enjoyed by married couples.
- Commence a law reform process to clear our statute book of discrimination against LGBTIQ people in areas ranging from property rights to adoption laws, in 2001.
- Pass civil partnership legislation so that all loving, caring relationships are recognised the same way under law, regardless of sexuality.
We have also commenced:
- The Safe Schools Coalition so that all students feel safe and supported in their school, and are not bullied or harassed on the basis of their sexuality.
- Play by the Rules and Fair Go, Sport programs to encourage everyone to participate in sport in a safe welcoming environment, increase awareness of sexual and gender diversity, and reduce discrimination or harassment.
- The LGBTIQ Advisory Council, to provide Government with practical and strategic advice to support the LGBTIQ community, improve the lives of people who identify as LGBTIQ and promote an inclusive Canberra.
In May 2015, the ACT Government joined the Pride in Diversity program to strengthen diversity training for Government officials, particularly frontline staff. The Chief Minister also called on the Canberra Business Chamber and the Community Sector to nominate "Diversity Champions" to work with ACT Government champions to promote social inclusion and equality.
Legislative Reforms for Intersex and Transgender people
The ACT Government leads the way nationally on improving recognition of sex and gender diverse people. In April 2014, the ACT Government passed new laws that updated the definition of 'intersex' in ACT law, including the removal of reassignment surgery as a prerequisite for a person to change their legal status. New arrangements include a clear and simple process for intersex people to change the sex on their birth certificates, making a significant difference to the lives of sex and gender diverse people born in the Territory.
Support for SpringOUT Festival
The Government will support Canberra's SpringOUT Festival by providing $10,000 in sponsorship from the Chief Minister's Community Support Fund. The Government will also facilitate local partnerships with local precincts such as Westside@Acton Park, as well as providing rainbow CBR material at the festival.
Marriage Equality Act
The Marriage Equality (Same-Sex) Act 2013 commenced on 4 November 2013. The Act represented landmark law reform in Australia. Thirty one marriages were registered under the Act between its commencement on 7 November and 12 December 2015 when the Act was found invalid by the High Court. Couples who married under the Act were able to keep their certificate but are unable to use it as legal proof of their marriage. While the issue of marriage equality is now a decision for the Commonwealth Parliament, the ACT Government will continue to strongly support true legal equality for all couples.