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Monday, 29 June 2009


Equality comes at a price - literally

July 1 should be a day of celebration for the nation's same sex couples, when their relationships will become formally recognised under many federal laws.

But many gay and lesbian Australians are finding that equality comes at a price - literally.

From next Wednesday, when the law starts to recognise de facto gay couples, Centrelink will also begin taking into account gay partner's incomes when considering eligibility for benefits.

So for a university student who lives with a full-time worker, they may lose their Youth Allowance cheques.

But more concerning, for the gay community, is the effect the new laws will have on elderly couples, who could be forced to go from receiving two single pensions to one couple's pension.

It's an interesting dilemna - I had certainly been aware of the irony of the two-single-pensions vs. legal recognition of partnership, but had not considered the aged pension. As I do know people who are still on the "Widows Pension" despite that category no longer existing, I'm a bit surprised that these changes - which will primarily affect the elderly - are not being grandfathered in.