[JURIST] The Australian Senate [official website] on Monday approved [Senate Daily Summary, PDF] legislation that would allow same-sex couples to enjoy most of the same rights as heterosexual couples, but would not give same-sex couples the right to marry. The Senate passed both a General Law Reform bill [text, PDF] and a Superannuation bill [text, PDF], which will amend federal laws to provide same-sex couples with equal rights. The new legislation would redefine a "de facto relationship" to include same-sex couples and would give them equal rights in terms of taxation, health care, adoption, and other areas. The bills must now go before the House of Representatives [official website] where they are expected to pass. The Canberra Times has local coverage.
In April, the Australian government announced plans [JURIST report] to end discrimination against same-sex couples in response to a 2007 report [text, PDF] by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission [official website], recommending legislative changes to 58 federal laws [JURIST report] to end discrimination against same-sex couples. A national poll released in June 2007 found that a majority of Australians also support same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive].