Key messages

  • All service providers have obligations to LGBTI clients under equal opportunity, human rights and anti-discrimination laws.
  • People in same-sex relationships have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples to authorise medical treatment, access information and visit their partner in hospital.
  • Victoria Police gay and lesbian liaison officers provide discreet, non-judgemental advice and assistance in reporting of crimes.
  • Next-of-kin status is recognised by registering a relationship in the Domestic Partner Register.

This information is intended as general information and not as legal advice.

All service providers have obligations towards LGBTI clients under:

  • The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) - prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation
  • The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) and the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws) — General Law Reform Act 2008 (Cth) - require that same-sex couples and families are treated equally for the purposes of federal laws
  • The Federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 - protects sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status
  • The Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) Act 2008 – allows access to ART services for single women and same-sex couples and for the non-birth mother in a same-sex couple to have her name listed as parent on their child’s birth certificate.
Victorian laws protect people from discrimination based on gender identity or disability. Transgender and intersex people are also protected against discrimination under Federal legislation. Trans and gender diverse people born in Victoria can change their name when affirming their gender identity. Sex affirmation surgery is required to change the gender ‘marker’ on birth certificates. However, this process is currently being reviewed.

People in same-sex relationships have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples to authorise medical treatment, access information and visit their partner in hospital. Despite this, same-sex partners are still challenged within healthcare and other settings. A welcoming environment and good staff–client communication are important in providing dignity and comfort to people when they enter health services.

LGBTI victims of domestic violence or sexual assault may be reluctant to disclose the identity and gender of the perpetrator. Victoria Police gay and lesbian liaison officers can provide discreet, non-judgemental advice and assistance in the reporting of crimes.

Next-of-kin status can be recognised by registering a relationship in the Domestic Partner Register. This may assist LGBTI partners when making end-of-life care decisions. In the event of family disputes, an unregistered partner may face delays in taking action while establishing that they meet the requirements of domestic partner. An up-to-date and properly executed will is highly recommended. LGBTI people should also be aware of their ability to make powers of attorney or guardianship, appointing someone they trust to make medical, financial, and personal decisions in the event that they lose capacity. The Office of the Public Advocate website has information on how to appoint attorneys and guardians. A Binding Death Benefit form can ensure that benefits pass to nominated parties. Forms are available from superannuation organisations.

References

Australian Human Rights Commission, 2013, Sexual orientation, gender identity & intersex status discrimination information sheet 

Leonard, W., Pitts, M., Mitchell, A., Lyons, A., Smith, A., Patel, S., Couch, M. and Barrett, A. (2012) Private Lives 2: The second national survey of the health and wellbeing of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Australians. Monograph Series Number 86. Melbourne: The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University

Hillier, L., 1998, Writing themselves in : a national report on the sexuality, health and well-being of same-sex attracted young people / Lynne Hillier ... [et al.], in: Monograph series: no. 7, Carlton South, Vic. : Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, 1998.