LGBT rights in Western Australia

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LGBT rights in Western Australia
Western Australia (Australia)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1990
Discrimination protections Yes (under state law since 2002 and federal law since 2013)
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
De facto unions since 2002
Adoption Yes

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the Australian state of Western Australia have some of the same rights as heterosexual people, yet same-sex couples lack access to a state-based relationship recognition scheme as occurs in all other Australian states.

Laws regarding homosexuality[edit]

In December 1989, the Parliament of Western Australia passed the Law Reform (Decriminalisation of Sodomy) Act 1989 which decriminalised private sexual acts between two people of the same sex and went into effect in March 1990.[1] The Act was however, one of the strictest gay law reform acts in Australia, as it made the age of consent for homosexual sex acts between males 21, whilst lowering the heterosexual age of consent to 16. The Act also created new homosexual-oriented offences under state law, including making it a crime for a person to "...promote or encourage homosexual behaviour as part of the teaching in any primary or secondary educational institutions..." or make public policy with respect to the undefined promotion of homosexual behaviour.[2]

LGBT people in Western Australia achieved equalisation of consent ages in 2002 via the Acts Amendment (Gay and Lesbian Law Reform) Act 2002, which also repealed the laws with respect to promotion of homosexual behaviour in public policy and in educational institutions.[3]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

De facto unions[edit]

Western Australia is one of two jurisdictions in Australia (the other being the Northern Territory) not to offer relationship registries and official domestic partnership schemes to same-sex couples. Instead, state law provides same-sex couples with de facto unions, which have been recognised under Western Australian family law since 2002.[4] In order for a same-sex couple to be officially recognised as a de facto union, or for de facto same-sex couples to legally remedy divorce proceedings, the Family Court of Western Australia is charged with permitting that recognition or divorce. These state laws recognise same-sex couples rights to next of kin recognition, partner's state superannuation and compensation in the event of partner's death, amidst a whole host of other things.[5] Same-sex couples in Western Australia and their relationships are also covered by federal law,[6] ensuring that same-sex de facto partners are provided with same entitlements as married partners.[7]

Adoption and parenting rights[edit]

Same-sex couples are permitted to adopt in Western Australia[8] as a result of the Acts Amendment (Gay and Lesbian Law Reform) Act 2002[9] which in turn amended the Adoption Act 1994 to include same-sex couples as eligible to adopt a child and include provisions for same-sex step-parent adoptions.

The 2002 Act is extensive in that also amends several other Acts to enable same-sex couples have access to assisted reproductive technology including in-vitro fertilisation and artificial insemination (see Parts 4 and 11 of the Act).[10] The Act further stipulates (in Part 4, Section 26) that the de facto female partner of a pregnant woman conceived via assisted reproductive technology is automatically considered as the second legal parent of that child for the purpose of state law, once the birth has occurred. A same-sex couple who utilises artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilisation treatment together (i.e. both parties present as a couple throughout the treatment) are able to have both names on the birth certificate once the child is born.

With respect to surrogacy rights, Western Australia (like all jurisdictions in Australia) bans commercial surrogacy and is also one of only two jurisdictions (the other being South Australia) to ban altruistic surrogacy for same-sex couples,[11] the Surrogacy Act 2008 defining eligible surrogacy clients as "...2 people of opposite sexes who are married or in a de facto relationship with each other".[12]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Western Australia passed the state Equal Opportunity Act in 1984.[13] This legislation failed to include sexual orientation amongst a list of attributes designed to protect people from discrimination. This was rectified in 2002, when the Acts Amendment (Gay and Lesbian Law Reform) Act 2002 amended the 1984 Act to include sexual orientation, protecting LGB people in areas of employment, education, accommodation and the provision of goods, services and facilities, amongst a host of other aspects of public life.[14][15] These laws technically provide less protections for transgender Western Australians, who are classified in the Equal Opportunity Act and by the Equal Opportunity Commission of Western Australia as 'Gender History'; providing protections for those who have reassigned gender as certified under the Gender Reassignment Act 2000.[16]

Federal law protects LGBT and Intersex people in Western Australia in the form of the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]