Inter~Section Melbourne (sexual minority and gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS ageing issues)

(Contact Mannie De Saxe and Kendall Lovett 03 9471 4878)


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11 FEBRUARY 2009



Changes to Social Security legislation in Australia and it’s effects on Same Sex Couples

An ACON Position paper


There are three kinds of payment or benefit which are provided by Government under the current Social Security legislation, predominantly under the Social Security Act 1991. There are:

1. The Age, Bereavement, Disability and other pensions;
2. Health Care cards, Seniors cards and Pharmaceutical Allowances; and
3. Allowances such as Newstart, Youth allowance, and Carer payments.

All of these benefits are affected by the relationship status of the recipient. For same sex couples where one or both partners are receiving a Government benefit, there are several issues which arise under the recent legislative reforms.

Areas of concern

ACON has particular concerns regarding older same sex couples receiving Age pension, Disability or other pension and are over 55 and/or health care or seniors cards. We suggest that those receiving the Age or Disability pension as at 1 July 2009 be exempted from disclosing their relationship status to Centrelink, as long as they remain on that pension. Should a recipient no longer qualify for a particular pension payment, and then re-qualify, they would need to reapply under the new rules. (However, this will cause problems - particularly for those receiving Disability pension dealing with HIV/AIDS related illnesses who move from disability to work episodically.)

Further, ACON believes that a transition period of at least 12 months should be built into the Social Security system to protect recipients of allowances including Newstart, health care and seniors cards as well as other means tested allowances to allow recipients to accommodate the changes in income assessment.

Our position is based on the belief that all citizens should experience both formal and substantive equality. The pursuit of formal equality at the expense of substantive equality in this case demonstrates the dangers of relying too heavily on legislative reform as the sole path to equity.

Significantly, this principle is not only consistent with Government practice during previous significant changes to social security payments, but also avoids the significant risk that many older members of same sex couples are not equipped to deal effectively with the negative changes in financial circumstances. This increases an already significant burden upon informal support networks and the not-for-profit sector.

Indeed, this lack of capacity within the older GLBT community also increases the burden on Government as increased levels of stress in older people has been shown to increase the likelihood of deteriorating mental and physical health in addition to compounding issues of financial stress.

Exempting older same sex couples also avoids having to classify every situation where a person receiving a pension or benefit is living with another of the same sex. This process would be unavoidably distressing and stressful for older same sex couples, whose previous experiences with social and institutional prejudice and discrimination have taught them to be wary of government interest in their personal affairs. In the most serious instances, individuals may not have come out even to their friends and family, so deep are their fears of rejection and prejudice.

Possible solutions

There are a range of possible mechanisms which may be utilized to alleviate these concerns. Among them are further legislative reform, policy guidelines developed under s24 of the Social Security Act pertaining to deeming relationship status, departmental directives and training for Centrelink staff dealing with same sex couples.

ACON notes there is a provision within the legislation for the Governor General to deal with ‘transitional, saving or application matters relating to the amendments [Part 3, s86 Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws--General Law Reform) Bill 2008 No. , 2008 29] and suggests that this may provide a mechanism to neatly deal with issues around exempting or providing a grace period for certain classes of people in relation to particular provisions.

The Senate Standing Committee recommended the Government “give further consideration to what administrative or regulatory mechanisms may be available to appropriately manage the impact of the reforms on same-sex couples who may have benefits reduced under the changes.”

The Attorney General claims that “[i]n keeping with the [Government’s] election commitment, the changes … will make a practical difference to the everyday lives of a group of our fellow Australians who have suffered discrimination under Commonwealth laws for far too long”. Surely, his government did not intend for these changes to further penalise the GBLT community, particularly as solutions are so readily to hand.


To the Letters Editor,
Sydney Star Observer,
PO Box 939, Darlinghurst NSW 1300.
Monday, 2 February 2009.
From: Kendall Lovett,
Lesbian & Gay Solidarity (Melbourne),
PO Box 1675, Preston South, Vic.3072.
Email: josken_at_zipworld_com_au
Tel: (03) 9471 4878

As Aaron and Joseph, from outerspace evidently, manage to get their letters published on your website as well as in the SSO (29.1.09) and Melbourne's Southern Star, it's to be hoped that someone tells them that the federal same-sex relationships legislation is already law and not under threat from a grandfather.

However, same-sex couples, where one or both are on NewStart, Austudy, Family Tax Benefit, Single Mother benefits or Disability Support pension, will be financially affected negatively after July 1st, not just Age pensioners.

So if you lose your job, and that's on the cards, and turn up at Centrelink after July 1st this year thinking you will get the dole, you had better be prepared to face some very intrusive scrutiny of the nature of your household, yours and your partner's financial arrangements, if a sexual relationship exists, his salary and then be told no dole, your partner earns too much.

A grandfather clause in the Social Security Act would not affect the other same-sex legislature. We think it could be done now by regulation. In the past a grandfather was given to hetero pensioners in the system but withheld from same-sex couples in the recent change to legislation. If it had it would have saved a lot of financial heartache and been more truly an equality.

Signed: Kendall Lovett,
Lesbian & Gay Solidarity (Melbourne).

16 FEBRUARY 2009

The Hon Robert McClelland,
Federal Attorney General,
PO 861, Hurstville NSW 2220;
As well as PO Box 6022, House of Representatives,
Parliament House, Canberra A.C.T. 2600.
Monday, 16 February 2009.

From: Kendall Lovett,
Lesbian & Gay Solidarity (Melbourne),
PO Box 1675, Preston South Vic.3072.
Dear Attorney-General,

This is not the first letter I have written to you recently regarding the equality issue for same-sex couples. It probably won´t be the last but I certainly hope you not only read this one but take it very much to heart and respond as a matter of urgency.

On Thursday night last, the editor of Centrelink News for Seniors headed a panel on Joy Radio to talk about the effects of the recent legislation on equality for lesbians and gay men and others in same- sex relationships and particularly those who are Centrelink clients. The editor is also General Manager of Centrelink.

You were also interviewed a few weeks ago on the same Joy Radio programme before racing off to the opening night of Milk. In your interview you said: "When the reforms in this area begin in July, it will have been 15 months since the government announced its intention to end discrimination against same-sex couples." You also stated that the Government did not hide the fact that there would be winners and losers from the implementation of this legislation. That statement is false because the Government´s most powerful bureaucratic body has kept the information hidden from its clients.

On Thursday night last, Centrelink´s spokesperson Hank Jongen informed the studio audience and the countless listeners to the programme that the Autumn issue of News for Seniors (March 2009) would carry the information to its clients -in particular age pensioners, disability support pensioners and their carers-that those in a same-sex relationship would be required to declare their same- sex relationship by 1st July 2009 or face the consequences. After 1st July they will be assessed financially as an interdependent couple on a lower rate than their current pension.

The Autumn issue of the publication is not 15 months from implementation of the legislation, it´s only 3 months. So, Centrelink withheld the information totally -from those you termed the losers!

Don´t tell me that they should have known because of the government´s announcements elsewhere. Most seniors don´t see lesbian and gay publications and how many radio or television programmes or even the print media carry information like that 15 months before it happens. We are talking about lesbians and gay men who grew up in the 30s and 40s, people whose same-sex relationships were unlawful and actively prohibited for another 50 or more years.

Pensioners rely on the Centrelink quarterly to tell them about such changes. Hank´s publication has not mentioned anything about lesbian and gay issues, let alone this relevant issue, in any previous issue in the past two years, if ever.

If you and the government aren´t prepared to provide a grandfather clause then draft a regulation dispensing with the out of date interdependency couple rate altogether and treat all married, unmarried and same-sex relationships as individual people on the single rate. In the long run that will save Centrelink and the ATO a huge amount of invasive, costly investigatory and interrogation work which must cost the taxpayer an enormous amount of money annually.

Signed: Kendall Lovett.

19 FEBRUARY 2009

Martin Ferguson,
Member of Parliament for Batman,
Electorate Office
159 High Street
Ph 03 9416 8690
Toll Free 1300 301 753
Fax 03 9416 7810
Parliament House: Suite MF 23
Parliament House
Ph: 02 6277 7930
Fax: 02 6273 0434

From: Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne
PO Box 1675,
Preston South,
Vic 3072
Email: josken1_at_pacific_net_au
19 February 2009

Re: Lack of “Grandfather Clause” in 2008 same-sex legislation changes

Dear Martin,

You will be aware of the recent legislative changes, passed in 2008, providing changes to superannuation, health funds, hospital arrangements and other aspects of partnerships being extended to same-sex relationships as found by the inquiry by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s (HREOC) investigations into then-existing legislation. HREOC found about 58 pieces of legislation requiring change, and the government found at least 100 pieces of legislation showing inequality between the hetero and homosexual communities.

There has been growing concern amongst ageing and aged gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS (GLTH) communities that these changes will have serious impacts on people whose lives have been marginalized, kept in the closet due to society’s homophobia, abused – in places like nursing homes controlled by religious institutions – and treated as non-citizens in terms of human rights extended to, and taken for granted by, the heterosexual members of our communities.

Over a period of the last 15 years, a period covering the previous Labor government and the last Coalition government, there have always been “grandfather clauses” covering major changes to legislation, such as the change of women’s pension entitlements from the age of 60 to the age of 65, and these changes factored in the impacts on the people involved and provided “grandfather clauses” to cushion the impact of the changes.

The Batman electoral area evidently includes large numbers of members of the GLTH communities, as reflected over the years by statistical analyses and other data collected by the communities involved.

This would seem to indicate that many members of your electoral area, Batman, will be seriously financially disadvantaged by the non-inclusion of a “grandfather clause” to cushion the changes.

The Attorney-General has stated dogmatically that he will not consider the insertion of such a clause and we are not quite sure of his reasoning in this matter and query the advice he has received from bodies such as Centrelink and other ministerial advisory groups.

We urge you to impress upon the government the need for a “grandfather clause” to allow old, frail, possibly sick, possibly – probably – closeted members of the Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and HIV/AIDS community members to live their last years not being hassled by Centrelink about their sex lives and other intrusions into the privacy situations forced on them by uncaring and discriminatory practices of governments from all sides of politics and by religious institutions which to this day have exemptions from various anti-discrimination legislations of state and federal governments.

Changes are to come into effect on 1 July 2009, and the impact on many lives will change their health and well-being for many years to come.

We urge you to press the relevant ministers and indeed the government as a whole to ensure the impact of the legislative changes will be cushioned by the inclusion of a “GRANDFATHER CLAUSE” before 1 July 2009.

Mannie De Saxe,
Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne

24 FEBRUARY 2009

This is Martin Ferguson's response to my email and letter to him above. We look forward to responses which we hope to publish below these two letters and we hope to forward them on to Martin Feguson.

Martin Ferguson AM, MP

Federal Labor Member of Batman

24 February 2009

Mannie De Saxe
Lesbian and Gay Solidarity
PO Box 1675

Dear Mannie,

Thank you for your email of 22 February 2009 concerning the "Grandfather Clause".

As you are aware, the Government's same-sex reform package passed through Parliament on 26 and 27 November 2008. The reforms amend 84 Commonwealth laws to remove discrimination against same-sex couples and their families in areas such as taxation, superannuation, social security, health, aged care, veterans' entitlements, workers' compensation, employment entitlements, immigration, child support and family law. The reforms will come into effect progressively over the coming months, with all reforms being implemented by mid 2009.

These reforms honour the Rudd Labor Government's election commitment to implement the recommendations of the Human Rights Equal Opportunities Commission in its Same Sex: Same Entitlements report. HREOC consulted extensively with the gay and lesbian community on the issue of whether same-sex couples should be recognised across all Federal laws. Almost all couples who gave evidence to the inquiry suggested they would give up the advantages they currently enjoy under social security laws if they were treated equally throughout all federal laws. Removing discrimination will result in some same-sex couples receiving benefits they could not previously access. Some examples include reversionary death benefits from Commonwealth government (defined benefit) superannuation schemes, social security bereavement payments, independent rate of youth allowance, access to the child support scheme, employment entitlements, workers' compensation, Medicare Safety Net and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Safety Net entitlements, and taxation benefits.

Equal treatment may also result in some same-sex couples having the benefits they currently receive reduced to be equal to the benefits received by opposite-sex couples in the same circumstances. For instance, members of a same-sex couple will be paid the partnered rate of social security and family assistance and be subject to the income and assets tests that apply to couples. The different rates of payment and income and assets limits available to partnered and single people recognise the ability of couples to gain financial advantage by pooling their resources and sharing living costs.

Equity in treatment of all people under the law was the foundation of the Government's reforms. Grandfathering of benefits would require the continuation of differential treatment on the basis of sexuality in Commonwealth legislation. In this way, it would undermine the purpose of the Government's reforms.

Grandfathering would also result in differential treatment between same-sex couples in the same circumstances depending on whether they met the 'grandfather' clause. As a consequence, some same-sex couples would be assessed as a couple while other same-sex couples would be assessed as single. As such, grandfathering would allow same-sex couples who are currently receiving payments at the single rate to continue to receive the single rate despite declaring to Centrelink that they are a member of a couple.

Contrary to what has been reported there have been significant changes to social security laws passed in the last 15 years that have not included a 'grandfather' clause. Where grandfathering has occurred it allowed people to retain their qualification for a payment but has not exempted them from the ongoing means testing of that payment. However, grandfathering of the same-sex reforms would result in certain same-sex couples being exempt from the means testing that would apply to other-opposite-sex and same-sex couples. Further, unlike previous reforms, this impacts on all social security and health programs. To isolate one aspect of the changes for grandfathering would result in inconsistencies in the recognition of a same-sex relationship in other social security and health programs.

Given the potential of the reforms to reduce the benefits that some same-sex couples currently receive the Government allowed for a reasonable lead-in time to the changes to social security and family assistance. The Government announced its intention to remove same-sex discrimination, including in the area of social security, on 30 April 2008. The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws - General Law Reform) Bill 2008 itself was tabled on 4 September 2008. The Government has also staggered commencement dates for the reforms to provide a reasonable period for individuals and couples to adjust to their new financial circumstances. Reforms dealing with social security, family assistance and income tax legislation will commence on 1 July 2009.

Relevant agencies are continuing to consult with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex community and welfare representatives to ensure that the concerns of affected community members are carefully considered in the implementation stage. Responsible agencies are implementing specific communication strategies in order to assist their client groups.

In relation to the changes to social security, I have been advised that current Centrelink customers and new claimants will have a three month period from 30 March 2009 during which they can declare to Centrelink that they are a member of a same-sex couple and discuss the impact of the changes on payments and services they receive. Centrelink has also established a dedicated hotline for customers affected by the reforms to discuss their particular situation with a Centrelink Service Advisor. The hotline number is 13 62 80. There are also provisions available in social security law to assist a member of a couple in exceptional circumstances. Whether a member of a same-sex couple is eligible to the relief provided by these provisions will depend on that person's individual circumstances.

I trust that this information will be of assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Federal Member for Batman
Electorate Office: 159 High Street, Preston, VIC 3072
Telephone (03) 9416 8690 Facsimile (03) 9416 7810

24 FEBRUARY 2009



A broad coalition of social welfare agencies and community health organisations is calling on the Federal Government to give older same-sex couples extra time and resources to adjust to new legislation affecting their Centrelink payments.

The coalition, which includes the National LGBT Health Alliance, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL), the Welfare Rights Centre, People With Disability Australia, Positive Life NSW, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations and ACON, says it welcomes recent changes to Commonwealth legislation to end discrimination against gay men and lesbians, including same-sex couples, across a wide range of federal areas. However, the coalition says the changes, which come into effect on July 1, will disadvantage elderly same-sex couples by cutting their pensions without giving them a reasonable opportunity to adjust to the new circumstances.

GLRL Co-convenor Emily Gray says elderly same-sex couples have been denied access to a variety of entitlements during the course of their working life and have therefore planned for retirement from a disadvantaged financial position. “Now retired, they’ll receive none or little of the benefits of these reforms, while experiencing significant financial burden,” Ms Gray says. “Also of concern is that Centrelink’s process of assessing whether someone is a member of a couple will be unavoidably distressing for many older same-sex couples.”

ACON CEO Stevie Clayton says same-sex couples deserve not only the rights and responsibilities available to opposite-sex couples, but also the time and resources available to other couples to adjust to major social welfare reform. “What we’re proposing is a series of savings provisions and transitional arrangements similar to those that have accompanied all previous major social security reforms,” Ms Clayton says. “We’re not asking for anything that hasn’t been provided to others in the past and given this whole process is about ending discrimination, it would be unfortunate if the Government elected not to offer the same protection to our community as has been afforded to others.”

The proposed provisions include:

To protect those currently on the age pension, all people in a same-sex relationship receiving the age pension at 1July 2009 should, for the purposes of the age pension, continue to be treated as if they are single for as long as they remain on that pension
To protect people aged over 55 on other types of pensions, people in a same-sex relationship over the age of 55 receiving other pensions at 1 July 2009 should continue, for the purposes of those pensions, to be treated as if they are not a member of a couple for as long as they remain on those pensions
A grace period of 12 months for all people on pensions and allowances in same-sex relationships making an effective implementation start date of 1 July 2010
A two year extension on concession cards and the retention of the single income test for the low income card
Comprehensive education campaign delivered by community organisations
Independent advocacy to same-sex couples about the social security reforms
Adequate training for Centrelink staff

Health Alliance spokesperson Gabi Rosenstreich says the coalition is expecting a range of other welfare agencies and community organisations to join the coalition before targeting Federal politicians with a comprehensive lobbying campaign over the next few weeks. “What we’re proposing is a simple and fairer solution for older same-sex couples who are being unnecessarily penalised and distressed over these changes.”

For more info or to join the coalition, please visit

For more information or to arrange an interview or photo opportunity, please contact us.

Contact: Michael Badorrek, Media and Communications Manager, ACON
Tel: (02) 9206 2001
Mobile: 0400 358 109

25 FEBRUARY 2009

Fern Smith, the author of this letter, has kindly given her permission for it to be published on our web page. We thank her for the opportunity to present yet more views on why we need a "grandfather clause".

The Hon Robert McClelland MP
Parliament House Contact
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Honorable Robert McClelland,

RE: Same Sex Relationships Act 2008 1 July 2009

The Same-Sex Relationships Act 2008 was intended to provide fair treatment for people who are subjected to discrimination. The Same-Sex Relationships Act 2008 does not include a "grandfather" or "sunset" clause for those unduly affected.

The Act by the governments own admission is oppressive for same-sex couples to implement their duty; it is punitive, includes an expense and emotionally affects current same-sex couples. For "... the reforms may also impose burdens on some same-sex couples or reduce certain benefits they currently receive..." Overview of the Australian Government’s Same-Sex Law Reforms Attorney General Official website 25 February 2009.

Same-Sex Relationships Act 2008 is huge; the changes will in time improve the equality same-sex couples. The government will "impose burdens" and "reduce certain benefits" particularly to same-sex couples currently in relationships that are ill (disability), elderly (pensioners), parents (single mothers) who have not considered themselves financially responsible for the other partner when entering the relationship. Therefore in the spirit of the intention of the Act I have included a set of recommendations.

Include a "grandfather" or "sunset" clause for existing same-sex couples to;
• encourage registering as a same-sex couple in states that have a registry and encourage other states and territory to include a same-sex registry
• to develop and implement across government education program of the changes to the law for same sex couples to all states and territories, hospitals, medical centers, work places, schools etc.
• to make de-facto relationships legally the same all states and territories
• to make de-facto relationships equal to "marriage" legally
• Sperm donation and IVF to be the same for all persons federally whether they be single, de-facto, married or same sex couple
• to develop and implement a federal Charter of Rights

"A charter of rights will improve democracy in Australia. ... Rather, it will require Parliament to consider human rights standards when making laws, and to justify any decision to depart from those standards.

... we cannot always trust our Parliament to pay sufficient regard to the protection of the human rights of every one in Australia. A charter of rights will help prevent human rights breaches by ensuing politicians turn their minds to the human rights implications of laws they are framing." Catherine Branson, QC, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Jan.2009

Yours sincerely
Fern Smith
PO BOX 948
Vic. 3058
Hon Kevin Rudd MP
Mr Kelvin Thomson MP
Hon Jenny Macklin MP
Bob Brown Senator
Hon J. J. Hogg
Hon A. B. Ferguson
Hon Malcolm Turnbull
Lesbian & Gay Solidarity (Melbourne)
Professor John McMillan
Graeme Innes
Paul Ramadge
Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby

18 MARCH 2009







Join the campaign to let the Rudd government know that we want equality, which does NOT mean sexual apartheid, defined as separate but equal in the old South African apartheid regime, it means equal in every respect under the law.

This means legal recognition of same-sex relationships under Commonwealth laws, not some feeble "de facto" recognition being offered and then for Centrelink to make its own interpretations.

It is time the Rudd government entered the 21st century and stopped kowtowing to the religious right with all its hypocrisies.

Make up post cards from the two items below - reduce them to postcard size and the top one is side one, and the bottom one is side two.

The flashing of the first two lines of this item only works if you are using Mozilla Firefox - Internet Explorer doesn't recognise the HTML language for the flashing!

30 MARCH 2009

Mannie De Saxe, Member of Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne
PO Box 1675, Preston South, Vic 3072
Email: josken1_at_pacific_net_au
Minister for Human Services
Senator Joe Ludwig

Re: Media Release: Government launches ‘Couples are Couples’ same sex information campaign

There are certain matters which need to be addressed by the Federal Government’s same-sex legislation in relation to Centrelink’s new guidelines:

1) Same-sex relationships have no legal recognition by the Federal government, which means discrimination, inequality, homophobia and other abuses in an ongoing pattern.
2) The Attorney General and you have persisted in stating, ad nauseam, that the gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS (GLTH) communities have had 15 months to adjust to the new legislation and grandfather clauses are therefore not warranted. This is patently not the case.
3) A minimum of publicity in the media has meant that there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of these communities who are unaware of the changes and/or the effects they will have on them, because the Federal government has failed to publicise the changes in the media.
4) From 30 March 2009 to 1 July 2009 is three months, not 15 months as you are all claiming, and Centrelink has even now, by 29 March 2009, not sent News for Seniors to Seniors informing of the changes – and in fact from 15 months ago to the present, there has not been one word uttered in that paper about GLTH communities and possible changes mooted by federal legislation.
5) It should be pointed out that the Australian community is an ageing community, and that includes members of the GLTH communities as well. You will be aware of the inequities in pensions to couples where a couple receives pension benefits which are NOT equal to two single pensions. We now live in the 21st century, and it is many years since women are supposed to have achieved wage equality with men (which of course in practice is very often still not the case.) It is therefore ludicrous that two pensioners in a couple, whether they be heterosexual or homosexual – or whatever the genders of the partners - do not each receive single pensions, considering how costs and expenditures have risen over the years to the extent that many, if not most, households need two incomes in order to survive in the modern world.
6) To then refuse a grandfather clause to same-sex couples who have very often been forced to remain closeted, who have been abused, and treated with homophobia and discrimination merely perpetuates this discrimination. Your laws of the past forced us to hide our relationships and now you think equating us with de factos will suddenly get rid of religious bigotry and hate!
7) As your government has failed to investigate the numbers who will be affected by the legislative changes, costs to government will be minimal – all pensioners pay tax – the gst ensures that – but those who will be most affected by the changes will be people in their 70s, 80s and older, who are amongst the most vulnerable members of the community. The intrinsic homophobia in the federal parliament ensures that these people will be so seriously affected that same-sex partners – when outed by your government by whatever means you and Centrelink employ – will stand to lose up to $100 each per fortnight, reducing their spending ability and for those who have to pay rent for accommodation will now become the new poor below the breadline. This is what you are setting out to achieve.
8) Until such time as there is legal recognition in the form of some sort of federal registration of partnerships, it is unclear whether your legislative changes are, in fact legal, and may well be able to be challenged. Who defines what is a “couple” and in fact what actually is the meaning of “couple” in the context of the government’s legislative changes?
9) Finally, it is worth noting that, although many of us are already in our 80s and are therefore able to be defined as geriatrics, we are not all suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, are not demented and still have the ability to vote. A federal election is due in approximately 18 months time, and we will vote.

The proposed changes have been mishandled from the start, consultations with the GLTH communities have been limited and restricted, and many voices have gone unheard. In fact, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity was never consulted about the de facto status and when we phoned the number in your media release for the community information kit, the staffer didn’t know what we wanted. So how good is your staff education for telephone operators? The GLTH communities have suffered from state and federal governments and their homophobia for the last 100 years, and the forthcoming changes will not bring equality. When we attain equality in every aspect of the law, we will no longer have grounds for complaint.

In the mean time, homophobic comments and actions by federal parliamentarians such as Gillard and Roxon go unchallenged by the prime minister and his government which has staunch allies in the Coalition.

It would be a good idea for all parliamentarians to see a new US documentary on the sorts of discriminations which will shortly be entrenched. The documentary is called simply “For my wife."

A letter in the Sunday Age on 29 March 2009 about Centerlink concludes “. . . . . . never mentioned the humiliating experience of dealing with Centrelink. Even the design of Centrelink offices, where everyone in the long queues can hear about your personal life, only seems to shame the unemployed.” Imagine the situation of 70, 80, 90-year-old age and/or disability pensioners, possibly also hard of hearing and possibly also closeted for a lifetime, standing in such a queue at a Centrelink office and having to disclose the most intimate details of their lives. Is there no end to the humiliations to be heaped upon some of the most vulnerable people in the country?

Mannie De Saxe, member of Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne

31 MARCH 2009

1 APRIL 2009

To Federal Ministers: Senator Joe Ludwig and MHR Jenny Macklin,

The Centrelink quarter page advertisement in The Age yesterday (31 March 2009) is an appalling waste of space.

Firstly, dentists advise one to keep a toothbrush hygienically separate from those of other household members. Your illustrations of two toothbrushes in a tumbler for couples together, who are gay/straight, is supposed to indicate that couples are couples and there's no difference but it's not the truth. Your poor example suggests that same-sex de facto couples are the same as married couples and that's a lie because the same-sex equality legislation doesn't say that at all.

Secondly, the illustrations could have been half the size and still carried the same impact. Centrelink's existing clients need to be given more information in such an advertisement and extra space would have made it possible.

Thirdly, everyone needs to know how this change will affect them financially not get in a telephone queue or in a long Centrelink office queue where everyone else can hear about your personal affairs --hardly confidential.

Fourthly, that tiny strip of orange coloured type is hardly legible to 70 or 80 something age pensioners to telephone the 13 hundred number about the reducing effect of the legislative changes on their pension if they are in a same-sex relationship. The Centrelink general manager told Melbourne's Joy Radio on February 12 that Centrelink's News for Seniors March edition would provide full information about the same-sex changes for existing clients. That hasn't happened so your insistence that we have been given 15 months notice of the legislation is ridiculous. It is now getting to be even less than 3 months to July 1st.

Lastly, stop pretending it's not a new discrimination against same-sex couples not to provide a grandfather clause, so find a way to save face at this late stage and provide a genuine grandfather clause for age pensioners, over 55s on disability and their carers.

Signed: Kendall Lovett,
Member of Lesbian and Gay Solidarity (Melbourne).

7 APRIL 2009

Mannie De Saxe, PO Box 1675, Preston South, Vic 3072
Phone: 03 9471 4878


Federal Government attacks some of the most vulnerable members of the community

Elder abuse has been well documented in recent years, covering areas such as abuse in nursing homes, abuse by carers, abuse by partners such as domestic violence, abuse by institutions and abuse by those responsible for management of care for the elderly, frail, sick, disabled.

Elder abuse of the gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS (GLTH) communities has also started to be documented in recent years, and horror reports by researchers such as Dr Jo Harrison, researcher of gay and lesbian gerontology, have uncovered instances of abuse to which those in local government and other governmental levels have turned blind eyes in many instances, or in fact have been guilty of inflicting themselves.

Now, in 2009, the Federal Government is about to inflict a new method of elder abuse on the GLTH communities, particularly those least able to defend themselves against this new form of discrimination, homophobia and other forms of abuse by targeting same-sex aged, disabled and other disadvantaged most vulnerable people.

This new abuse inflicts outing, public declarations, income reduction and other disadvantages on these groups because the Government refuses to provide a grandfather clause in the legislation which provides improvements in conditions for same-sex partnerships with changes to nearly 100 pieces of legislation.

In effect, this elder abuse means inflicting hardship on people who have lived their lives with the hardships imposed by the homophobic world in which they have lived, a world which has denied them the same human rights which heterosexual members of the community have taken for granted as their right in our society.

Because so many have remained living as homosexuals in secret, the psychological and physical impacts as well as the other impacts of outing them are too numerous to contemplate. These are people who have had to try to finance their plans for old age in ways which would be foreign to heterosexuals, and who in many instances will now have their support structures torn away from them because of the new legislation.

This is elder abuse writ large and for which the government will be held responsible for the awful situations inflicted on those least able to protect themselves, all this at a time of financial crisis in local and global economies which will affect us all.

All these hardships will be avoided by the inclusion of a grandfather clause to assist some of the most disadvantaged of our elderly GLTH population – those already in their 70s, 80s and older.

You wouldn’t do this to your own families, would you?

Mannie De Saxe


Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – Contact Form
Attorney General Robert McClelland –
Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin – Contact Form
Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Tourism Martin Ferguson –
Minister for Human Services Senator Joe Ludwig – Contact Form

Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown

Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Turnbull –

Australian Senior (Victoria) -
Fifty~Plus News –

Ausqueer –
glbti_ageing –
ozhomohist –

Sydney Star Observer –

Dr Jo Harrison – GLTH Gerontologist –

12 APRIL 2009

We had a very welcome surprise and offer of support when this email arrived from Takver. We thought we ought to place the links on this page so that activists would be able to make use of the resurrected sydney.indymedia and Australia.Indymedia sites.

Hi Mannie,

I saw your letter and published it with an introduction at Sydney Indymedia,

and the new Australia Indymedia site that is just being beta tested and developed. The domain for this will change when the site is officially launched, probably in about a month's time. regards

17 APRIL 2009

Look at this photo very carefully! Are you able to tell whether the toothbrushes are gay or straight?

The answer is that they must be gay, because if they were straight the federal government would immediately grant them relationship recognition - after all, only male and female toothbrushes can have a legitimate relationship which lasts for a lifetime, to the exclusion of all other relationships.

Now that we have established they must be gay toothbrushes, we must establish whether they are couples or not, so that Centrelink can 'out' them and go snooping in their bathrooms to check whether they are mating with the teeth they are involved with or indulging in any other nefarious activities.

The problem is, there are three toothbrushes, so to whom do they belong? To one GLTH or two GLTHs or three GLTHs? Well in this case, it appears that there are three possible scenarios. If you are into horse-racing, it is possible to have a daily double and two running doubles, making three doubles

From a toothbrush perspective, then, we now have three possible toothbrush pairs, so it is now left to us to work out which ones are in sexual relationships with which other ones, and therein lies the rub - they are all owned by the same toothbrush owner who therefore must be in a sexual relationship with his left hand and his right hand and both hands together, in order to accomplish the impossible - turning toothbrushes into human beings - so that Centrelink and the federal government can pursue the couples which ARE couples - gay or straight - or both at the same time - what - we now have bisexual toothbrushes?

19 APRIL 2009



The question is, who is doing what and to whom? and how are you able to tell the gay from the straight?

And the answer is: they must be gay - straights wouldn't be enjoying their toothpaste as much as gays - see the bottom picture!

22 APRIL 2009


We wrote to Minister Ludwig after the toothbrush advertisement appeared in the print media on March 31 pointing out it was a complete waste of space because it gave existing Centrelink clients no useful information.

In fact it gave them some misinformation. It implied that couples are couples and there’s no difference between same-sex ones and married ones. That’s not what the legislation says. Centrelink clients need to know that if they are in a same-sex relationship they are likely to be changed over from a single pension rate to a married couple’s outdated rate when each gets a much lower rate than a single person from July 1.

On Melbourne’s JOY Radio Centrelink’s general manager told listeners on February 12 that Centrelink’s publication, News for Seniors March edition, would explain the changes. It’s a quarterly publication mailed to clients.

That issue has never arrived so why isn’t the information in these expensive and useless advertisements?

If it goes to all aged pensioners they must know who they have on single pensions in the system so surely they could have used the money they are spending on these ridiculously expensive non-informative advertisements to send a letter with full details to single aged and disability pensioners detailing the situation exactly for same-sex couples.

Federal ministers should have fought for a grandfather clause or an alternative. Dump the outdated 19th century interdependent couple status rate altogether and treat all couples the same as singles.

— Kendall Lovett, Lesbian & Gay Solidarity (Melbourne)

FOOTNOTE:Centrelink's long-awaited News for Seniors Autumn 2009 ISSUE 77 finally arrived on 22 April 2009, and 1 July 2009 is approximately 10 weeks off - not exactly 15 months as the federal government keeps on lying to everybody!

It is also worth noting that the media campaign also promised by this lying government hasn't materialised, and for those closeted Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, HIV/AIDS (GLTH) people, the information just isn't reaching them, and if that is not ELDER ABUSE, then what is??

11 MAY 2009


5 MAY 2009

This page is from the Federal Government:

Joint Media Release 5 May 2009 Robert McClelland MP Attorney-General Jenny Macklin MP Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs


The Australian Government will provide $450,000 for a community education campaign to inform same-sex couples about implications of recent reforms to legislation, which enable same-sex couples and their children to be recognised by Commonwealth law.

Under the Government’s reforms to remove discrimination, same-sex couples have the same entitlements and obligations as opposite-sex de facto couples.

We are working hard to ensure all same-sex couples have access to these entitlements and understand their obligations.

The Australian Government’s package of measures complements Centrelink’s extensive information campaign. The measures include:

* a website which provides an overview of the reforms;
* $100,000 for the National Welfare Rights Network to help Centrelink clients with independent and confidential legal advice about the same sex reforms; and
* $350,000 for the development of a community education and advertising program to be developed and managed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Health Alliance in partnership with a number of community-based organisations.

Centrelink is committed to implementing the same-sex reforms in a sensitive way and has offered additional training to all staff who deal regularly with customers to assist them in dealing sensitively with people in same-sex relationships.

The reforms amend 84 Commonwealth laws to eliminate discrimination against same-sex couples and their children in a wide range of areas, including social security, taxation, Medicare, veteran’s affairs, workers compensation, educational assistance, superannuation, family law and child support.

Information in relation to the same-sex reforms can be found at
Media contact:
Adam Siddique 0407 473 630
Jenny Macklin: Jessica Walker 0430 166 633

6 MAY 2009

This page is from the Alternative Liberal Party - ooh!! that should be the Australian Labor Party!!!:

Same-sex reform education campaign

Related Material
* Centrelink seminars to explain same-sex reforms
Media Statement - 5th May 2009
Jenny Macklin
Robert McClelland

The Australian Government will provide $450,000 for a community education campaign to inform same-sex couples about implications of recent reforms to legislation, which enable same-sex couples and their children to be recognised by Commonwealth law.

Under the Government's reforms to remove discrimination, same-sex couples have the same entitlements and obligations as opposite-sex de facto couples.

We are working hard to ensure all same-sex couples have access to these entitlements and understand their obligations.

The Australian Government's package of measures complements Centrelink's extensive information campaign. The measures include:

* a website which provides an overview of the reforms;
* $100,000 for the National Welfare Rights Network to help Centrelink clients with independent and confidential legal advice about the same sex reforms; and
* $350,000 for the development of a community education and advertising program to be developed and managed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Health Alliance in partnership with a number of community-based organisations.

Centrelink is committed to implementing the same-sex reforms in a sensitive way and has offered additional training to all staff who deal regularly with customers to assist them in dealing sensitively with people in same-sex relationships.

The reforms amend 84 Commonwealth laws to eliminate discrimination against same-sex couples and their children in a wide range of areas, including social security, taxation, Medicare, veteran's affairs, workers compensation, educational assistance, superannuation, family law and child support.

Information in relation to the same-sex reforms can be found at:

Inter~Section Part 1 - Introduction to Inter~Section
Inter~Section Part 2 - Information and Details
Inter~Section Part 3 - Gay, Lesbian, Transgender Ageing Issues
Inter~Section Part 3a - Reports on Gay, Lesbian, Transgender Ageing Issues from Seminars, Forums, Consultations
Inter~Section Part 3d - ELDER ABUSE SUBMISSION
Inter~Section Part 4 - Darebin Council and Sexual Minority Issues
Inter~Section Part 5 - Links to documents and sites relating to Gay, Lesbian, Transgender Ageing and other Sexual Minority and Local Government Issues
Inter~Section Part 6 - 2006 to 2009 UPDATES
Inter~Section Part 7 - EQUAL RIGHTS CAMPAIGNS - PART 1
Inter~Section Part 8 - 2009 EQUAL RIGHTS CAMPAIGNS - PART 2
Inter~Section Part 9 - 2009 EQUAL RIGHTS CAMPAIGNS - PART 3
Inter~Section Part 10 - 2009 EQUAL RIGHTS CAMPAIGNS - PART 4
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5a - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 1
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5b - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 2
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5c - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 3
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5d - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 4
GAY, LESBIAN, TRANSGENDER, HIV/AIDS SUICIDE (including youth suicide) Part 1
GAY, LESBIAN, TRANSGENDER, HIV/AIDS SUICIDE (including youth suicide) Part 2
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - PREFACE
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTRODUCTION
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 1 - AUSTRALIAN 1971-1980
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 2 - AUSTRALIAN 1981-1990
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 3 - AUSTRALIAN 1991-2000
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 4 - AUSTRALIAN 2001-2010
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 5 - AUSTRALIAN 2011-2020
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTERNATIONAL - Part - 1 A to I
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTERNATIONAL - Part 2 - J to S
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTERNATIONAL - Part 3 - T to Z





Mannie De Saxe also has a personal web site, which may be found by clicking on the link: RED JOS: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM

Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:

MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)

Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009

RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)

This page updated 21 MAY 2014 and again on 16 AUGUST 2017

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