Kicking A Lion

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Boost for same-sex military couples from the Australian Defense Force

SAME-SEX relationships in the Australian Defence Force have moved a step closer to formal recognition following the introduction of commonwealth laws ensuring equal treatment of financial benefits and superannuation payments to personnel regardless of sexual preference.

The laws, to be introduced on January 1, mark a significant step forward in the recognition of same-sex relationships for ADF members, Defence Science and Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon said yesterday.

The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws — Superannuation) Act 2008 ensures same-sex couples are treated the same as heterosexual couples for the purposes of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948 and the Defence Force Retirement and Deaths Benefits Act 1973.

“Same-sex partners of ADF members will no longer be denied the payment of death benefits from superannuation schemes,” Mr Snowdon said.

“What these laws do, is they’re a continuation of our election commitment to remove same-sex discrimination from a broad range of commonwealth laws. Defence is encouraging a fair, safe and very inclusive workplace where we respect all persons regardless of their sexual inclination.”

ADF service members in same-sex relationships would now receive exactly the same conditions of service as those in married or de facto relationships, he added.

The tax concessions on death benefits, which are currently available only to heterosexual couples, will from January 1 be available to same-sex couples.

“These changes further reinforce the ADF’s commitment to recognition of same-sex relationships, seen in areas such as the Defence Home Owners Scheme and access to Royal Australian Air Force veterans’ residences,” Mr Snowdon said.

In 1992, under pressure from the Keating Labor government, the ADF lifted its ban on openly gay and lesbian soldiers.

At the time, the change in policy met strong resistance from service chiefs and defence service organisations, but the issue has since faded from the public stage, after it failed to fulfil warnings it would damage defence recruitment and combat-effectiveness.

Experts say evidence of the lifting of the gay ban on ADF members is scarce, but indicates there has been no decline in operational effectiveness.

The latest changes come in the wake of significant and continuing reforms to the national military justice system.

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Written by kickingalion

December 18, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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