4 September 2003

Gay partner of WWII veteran entitled to widows pension: UN

'I started this action because of discrimination before the law, and I firmly believe that anyone who lives in Australia or is an Australian must be treated with equality before the law, no matter what their sexual orientation is,' he said.

Mr Young says while he feels vindicated by the committee finding, the fight is not yet over.

'When the Government eventually changes the discrimination against same-sex couples, that will be the ultimate point,' he said.

The Australian Government has been given 90 days to respond to the decision.

Legal academic Wayne Morgan, who was a consultant on the case, says the significance of the UN decision can not be underestimated.

'Globally, it is the most significant statement that a UN body has ever made about the equality rights of same-sex couples, and in that respect it will have effects all around the world,' he said.

'For us here at home it's even more important because federal law contains a number of definitions very similar to the definition which the [UN] Human Rights Committee has ruled invalid under this decision.'

A spokeswoman for the Veterans Affairs Minister Danna Vale says the Government is considering the committee's finding and will respond in due course.

Tasmanian gay rights advocates have welcomed the ruling.

The Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group's Rodney Croome hopes the finding will prompt the Federal Government to act.

'The Prime Minister keeps telling us that we should support the loved ones of service personnel who are serving overseas, and if he's sincere about that then he will sit down with the man who's taken this case, and his lawyers, to discuss what can be done to ensure the memory of one of Australia's service personnel isn't treated with contempt,' he said.

Here is a very simple issue for Prime Minister John Howard, whose enthusiasm for supporting the troops is such a trademark. I hope he did not mean just the heterosexual troops.