Cohabiting same-sex couples are otherwise recognised as de facto couples for the purposes of state or territory law. Same-sex couples may enter into civil partnerships in the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland. Both unions allow couples to have state-sanctioned ceremonies and both laws are commonly referred to as civil unions. These provide conclusive proof of the existence of the relationship, thereby gaining the same rights afforded to de facto couples under state and federal law without having to prove any further factual evidence of the relationship.
In this way, a registered relationship is similar to a registered partnership or civil union in other parts of the world. South Australia's law allowing registered relationships and recognised overseas and interstate same-sex unions went into effect on 1 August In Western Australia and the Northern Territory, same-sex couples must often seek judicial approval to prove a de facto relationship exists. States and territories make laws with respect to adoption and child-rearing. Since April , same-sex couples can adopt children in all jurisdictions in Australia.
Commercial surrogacy is banned nationwide. The Northern Territory has no laws on surrogacy at all. Female same-sex partners of mothers are usually considered the automatic co-parent of the child ren born as a result of assisted reproduction. Prior to 1 August , Australia did not comprehensively outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation at the federal level. However, in response to Australia's agreement to implement the principle of non-discrimination in employment and occupation pursuant to the International Labour Organisation Convention No.
If it cannot be conciliated, the Commission prepares a report to the federal Attorney-General who then tables the report in Parliament. Employment discrimination on the ground of "sexual orientation" is also rendered unlawful in the Fair Work Act , allowing complaints to be made to the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Human Rights Sexual Conduct Act provided that sexual conduct involving only consenting adults 18 years or over acting in private would not be subject to arbitrary interference by law enforcement.
This applies to any law of the Commonwealth, State or Territory. In late , the Gillard Labor Government announced a review of federal anti-discrimination laws, with the aim of introducing a single equality law that would also cover sexual orientation and gender identity. From 1 August , discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people became illegal for the first time under national law. Aged care providers who are owned by religious groups will no longer be able to exclude people from aged care services based on their LGBTI or same-sex relationship status.
However, religious owned private schools and religious owned hospitals are exempt from gender identity and sexual orientation provisions in the Sex Discrimination Amendment Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status Act In introducing federal discrimination protections for LGBTI people, the Gillard Government promised that religious bodies would be exempt, unless they were aged care providers receiving Commonwealth funding.
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In October , various portions of the Ruddock Review report were leaked, which included recommendations to clarify how religious schools could discriminate against LGBT teachers and students. Each of the states and territories introduced their own anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTI people from discrimination before the Commonwealth did so in The first anti-discrimination protections were enacted in New South Wales by the Wran Government in , two years before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in that state.
Historically Australian courts applied the provocation doctrine to allow the use of the "homosexual advance defence", more commonly known as the " gay panic defence ". The first recorded use of the defence in Australia was the Victorian case of R v Murley , in which a man was acquitted of murder after killing a gay man who had allegedly made a sexual advance towards him. Several states and territories subsequently abolished the defence of provocation altogether, including Tasmania, New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria. South Australia is the only state to retain the gay panic defence; however, following a review by the South Australian Law Reform Institute state Attorney General, Vickie Chapman , committed to its abolition.
However, the program faced criticism in and from social conservatives including the Australian Christian Lobby , LNP politicians such as Cory Bernardi , George Christensen , Eric Abetz , Malcolm Turnbull , Tony Abbott , Kevin Andrews and former Labor Senator Joe Bullock for indoctrinating children with " Marxist cultural relativism ",  and age-inappropriate sexuality and gender concepts in schools,  while others criticised the Marxist political views of Roz Ward, a key figure in the program. The concerns led to a review under the Turnbull Government , which implemented a number of changes such as restricting the program to high schools, removing role playing activities and requiring parental consent before students take part.
Birth certificates and driver licences are within the jurisdiction of the states, whereas Medicare and passports are matters for the Commonwealth. This took effect on 9 December , unless the state or territory governments removed this requirement beforehand.
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As of July , the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia were the only two Australian jurisdictions to have amended their laws to allow a person to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate without a requirement to undergo sex reassignment surgery or divorce if already married. Queensland and New South Wales abolished the forced divorce provisions from the statute books in June , though both jurisdictions still require an individual to have undergone surgery before being permitted to alter their sex descriptor on a certificate.
In Tasmania , a bill was introduced in the Parliament in October by the Liberal Government to repeal only the forced divorce requirement. However, amendments moved by the Labor opposition and the Greens were successfully passed by the House of Assembly in November despite government opposition which repealed the requirement for sex reassignment surgery, recognised non-binary genders, made the inclusion of gender optional on a birth certificate, lowered the age a person can change their legal gender without parental permission to sixteen, allowed parents of children of any age to apply for gender change consistent with the "will and preference" of the child, extended the time limit after birth for parents of intersex children to register their child's birth to days and updated anti-discrimination law.
The bill passed the Parliament in April and received royal assent the following month, with the majority of the bill commencing on the same day. The part that contains amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act commenced on 5 September Birth certificates are issued by states and territories. In many states, sterilisation is or has been required for transgender people to obtain recognition of their preferred gender in cardinal identification documents. Medical treatment for gender dysphoria in pubescent children is generally divided into two stages: .
Transgender Australians are generally not eligible for sex reassignment surgery until they turn 18 years old. Medicare Australia provides cover for many of the major surgeries needed for sex reassignment surgery. However, there can often be a gap between the Medicare benefit paid and the amount the surgeon will charge, sometimes in the amount of thousands of dollars. However, many Australian private health insurance policies provide private hospital cover policy that includes any SRS procedure that is also covered by Medicare.
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There is typically a waiting period before insurers allow people to claim for these services, usually about 12 months. Since November , a transgender child is able to access both puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone treatment without court approval if there is agreement between the child, their parents and treating doctors. Although Australian terminology has expanded from "LGBT" to "LGBTI" to include intersex people, their experience remain poorly understood in the absence of substantial research in the area.
A key concern regarding intersex human rights is that intersex infants, who are unable to give consent, may be subjected to medical operations to reduce the prominence of non-binary sex characteristics of their genitalia. These procedures are criticised by intersex advocates who argue that they compromise the individual rights to bodily autonomy, integrity and dignity, drawing parallels to female genital mutilation , in contrast to the position that parents of intersex children may consent on their behalf to having medical interventions conducted in that they believe it to be in the best interests of their children.
In October , the Australian Senate published a report entitled "Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia".
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The Senate found that "normalising" surgeries are taking place in Australia, often on infants and young children. Intersex individuals may apply for an Australian passport and other Commonwealth documentation with an " X " sex descriptor.
Since , the Australian Passport Office has issued such identity documents to all individuals with documented "indeterminate" sex. Their guidelines state that "sex reassignment surgery is not a prerequisite to issue a passport in a new gender. Birth or citizenship certificates do not need to be amended". It calls for an end to legal classification of sex and stating that legal third classifications, like binary classifications, were based on structural violence and failed to respect diversity and a "right to self-determination". The visa allows Australian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners into Australia.
Unlike married couples, immigration guidelines require de facto and interdependent partners to prove a twelve-month committed relationship, but it can be waived if the couple is registered by a state or territory's Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The temporary and permanent visas Subclasses and allow the applicant to live, work, study and receive Medicare benefits in Australia. Australia is a party to the Refugee Convention , which obliges member states to offer protection to those seeking asylum due to a well-founded fear of persecution in their home countries due to, among other things, their membership of a particular social group.
In , Prime Minister Kevin Rudd introduced a new asylum policy which meant that all asylum seekers arriving by boat would be sent offshore to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement. People have been imprisoned or killed for performing homosexual acts. In practice, the protections for refugees seeking asylum on the basis of sexual orientation are limited, depending largely on invasive personal questions and the whim of the immigration officials involved.
LGB personnel were effectively banned from the Australian armed forces until ; they could be subject to surveillance, interviews, secret searches and discharge from the military if discovered. Many homosexual personnel served in the military during the World Wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, with their comrades often being aware of their orientation and accepting of it.
In , the Keating Government overturned the ban on LGB personnel after a lesbian Australian Army reservist complained to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission that she was dismissed on the grounds of her sexuality. The study also found that the lifting of the ban may have contributed to improvements in productivity and working environments for service members. By the s, the ADF was seeking to actively engage the gay and lesbian community. The ADF also recognises "interdependent relationships", which include same-sex relationships, regarding benefits available to active duty members.
This means equal benefits in housing, moving stipends, education assistance and leave entitlements. To be recognised as interdependent, same-sex partners will have to show they have a "close personal relationship" that involves domestic and financial support. Defence Force policy was amended to allow transgender Australians to openly serve in Established in , DEFGLIS has facilitated reforms in the ADF leading to improved recognition of same-sex partners, development of policy and guidance for members transitioning gender, and enhanced education about sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex people.
Conversion therapy has a negative effect on the lives of LGBT people, and can lead to low self-esteem, depression and suicide ideation. The pseudoscientifc practice has long been performed in Australia.
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In the s in New South Wales, men convicted of same-sex sexual activity would often be segregated and "medicalised" within the prison system. The patients were subjected to apomorphine injections and electric shocks.
At the time, conversion therapy was supported by public officials, who viewed homosexuality as a "curable disease". There is, however, no scientific or medical evidence to support the use of conversion therapy. Nowadays, reports suggest that conversion therapy is more "secret" and "insidious", and is run by religious groups or medical health practitioners.
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State governments have come under increasing pressure to enact legislation to ban and crack down on the use of the pseudoscientific practice. The bill created a Health Complaints Commissioner with increased powers to take action against groups performing conversion therapy; these powers ranging from issuing public warnings to banning them from practicing in Victoria.
The bill passed the lower house on 25 February , passed the upper house on 14 April with minor amendments and passed the lower house with the attached amendments on 27 April Royal assent was granted on 5 May The law went into effect on 1 February The Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia are also considering enacting laws to crack down on conversion therapy. It is abhorrent and completely inconsistent with the inclusive values of Canberrans.
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In April , Health Minister Greg Hunt came under fire after he called conversion therapy "freedom of speech" and "a different view". After much criticism, he affirmed that the Federal Government does not support conversion therapy. The Australian Labor Party supports banning the practice. In September , the Australian Senate unanimously passed a motion expressing opposition to the pseudoscientific practice and calling on the state governments to enact laws prohibiting it.
At the federal election , the Australian Labor Party promised to introduce a national ban on conversion therapy if elected to government. Several other countries also have MSM bans ranging from three months to lifetime or permanent deferral. The policy was challenged in with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. Australian faith communities vary widely in their official positions towards LGBT rights, including the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
With the advance of LGBT rights in Australia, religious opponents have increasingly used religious freedom arguments to justify continuing opposition against LGBT people on the grounds of their personal beliefs. In , over religious leaders in Australia wrote an open letter to the Australian Government to support marriage for same-sex couples, saying, "As people of faith, we understand that marriage is based on the values of love and commitment and we support civil marriage equality, not despite, but because of our faith and values.
In , then- Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell , stated the Roman Catholic Church continues to teach that sexual activity should be confined to married opposite-sex couples and continues to oppose legitimising any extra-marital sexual activity and any "homosexual propaganda" among young people. As a direct result of his advocacy and online petition, the gay panic defence was abolished from Queensland law on 21 March Since , the Uniting Church in Australia has allowed sexually active gay and lesbian people to be ordained as ministers, with each individual presbyteries given discretion to decide the matter on a case-by-case basis.
A number of individual ministers of religion have publicised their support for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage without their denomination taking an official position. Buddhist support for LGBT rights such as same-sex marriage was confirmed in by the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, which represents laypeople,   and the Australian Sangha Association, which represents religious leaders.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils , a peak umbrella body for Sunni Muslim organisations, strongly opposed removing discrimination against same-sex couples in federal law.