Monday, April 03, 2006
Inquiry into same-sex relationship discrimination
This morning I attended the launch of a HREOC (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission) inquiry into discrimination against same sex relationships: financial and work-related entitlements and benefits. A few big wigs from HREOC spoke at the launch. I was interested to note how the inquiry gives the everyday stories of individuals a high priority. This is part of a wider strategy to change the views of those in Australian society who currently think that same sex relationships are not equal to heterosexual relationships and to bring to people's attention the impact of discrimination in the legal system on "ordinary Australians". The sharp focus on strategy in the talks and in the inquiry itself seems to echo an approach recently adopted by many sectors dissatisfied by the directions of the Howard regime but trying to accomplish positive social change in spite of 10 years of conservative government. I understand the strategy and I think it is a powerful one but I also have mixed feelings about adopting the same language and common sense ideas about "fairness", "ordinary Australians" and "nationhood" used by the reigning government to enact their own conservative agenda. I also wonder why the inquiry has limited its terms of reference to work-related entitlements and benefits and didn't include other issues such as custody and adoption rights for same sex couples with children.