Federal regulations giving legal recognition to homosexual relationships in immigration for the first time came into effect on April 15. Australia thus joins a handful of countries (New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway) which acknowledge the basic human right of gay and lesbian residents to remain in their own country, living with the partner of their choice, regardless of nationality.
Between 1985 and 1989, there was a cumbersome and protracted method of granting residence to foreign homosexual partners, based on the minister exercising his/her discretionary powers over compassionate and humanitarian applications. In late 1989, this mechanism was lost in a major overhaul of immigration regulations.
The regulations introduced on April 15 do not grant equality with heterosexuals, but the new conditions are roughly similar to those for heterosexual de facto applicants. They create a category of "relationships of emotional interdependency" outside of family links, which includes gay couples without being exclusive to them.
Many gay and lesbian couples, within Australia and overseas, have been anxiously awaiting the introduction of this regulation. For detailed information, couples can contact the GLITF by writing to GPO Box 415, Sydney 2001, or by attending the weekly advice session held at 72-74 Oxford Street, second floor, on Mondays at 7.30 p.m.
[Drawn from Sydney Star Observer.]