The Australian Law Reform Commission has encouraged LGBTIQ people to have their say in its review of the Australian family law system.
The review will cover 47 broad questions around the Family Law Act 1975, and in an issues paper released on Wednesday the ALRC asks how the accessibility of the family law system can be improved for LGBTIQ people.
“Although there has been a sustained focus on marriage equality over many years in the human rights sphere, in the family law system there has been limited attention paid to the extent to which it is equipped to meet the needs of clients in LGBTIQ groups,” the paper reads.
The review will look at property issues, same-sex relationship and parenting issues and medical issues for transgender and intersex children.
The issues paper cited a 2017 study that found same-sex couples who had experienced separations involving children reported experiencing “an added layer of difficulty to their separation process due to their concerns around finding the support of a service provider,” and some couples felt mainstream services “did not understand their position and were poorly equipped to meet their needs.”
According to the paper, research had found that despite family law reforms in 2008, non-biological lesbian co-mothers continue “to be treated as secondary figures in their children’s lives.”
LGBTIQ people who have been the victims of family violence may face barriers to access of the family law system due to limited professional knowledge, the paper said, and a key issue for LGBTIQ youth is that they “may experience violence from family members as a result of their sexuality or gender identity.”
Announcing the review last October, then-Attorney General George Brandis said it was long overdue because the review would be the first comprehensive look at the Family Law Act since it came into effect in 1976.
Submissions to the review can be made online at the ALRC website until May 7. The ALRC will deliver its report in March next year.
Last week, the Queensland government announced its own broad review of the state’s Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act.
As part of the review, the Attorney-General’s department released a discussion paper exploring how Queensland “can improve the legal recognition of sex and gender diverse people, in response to changing community attitudes and understanding about gender.”
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the discussion paper was an important step towards “ensuring all people’s sex and gender is respected and formally recognised” in the state and encouraged Queenslanders to have their say.
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