Same-Sex Relationships

“To what extent does the law reflect moral and ethical standards of Australian society in relation to family members?”

“The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights calls on countries to respect and ensure the rights of all their people ‘without distinction of any kind.”

Our law is a reflection of the ethical and moral values of the society in which it is developed. It becomes difficult when people agree it is good, but question what is right. This falls under the belief of public and private morality and the understanding of ethics. Public morality is constantly changing and what may once been considered to be immoral may, over time, come to be considered acceptable and therefore the law is constantly changing to reflect these morals. Until the last decade of the 20th century it was a crime to engage in homosexual activity, however due to the changing public morals the law was changed and homosexuality was no longer considered an illegal act. Homosexuals are still unequal under the law in some areas but the changing moral and ethical standards of Australians are slowly being reflected through the law.

Homosexuality is an issue in Australia that previous generations have not wanted to acknowledge. There have been a growing number of same-sex couples in Australia since 1996 as evident on the graph, therefore Australians are more aware of their rights and have come to accept them. Homosexual union in not recognized as a marriage in Australia as the legal definition of marriage, under the Marriage Act 1961 (Cwlth) later amended to The Marriage Amendment Act 2004 (Cth) and the Family law Act 1975 (Cwlth) and both in statute and in the original British common law, is ‘the voluntary union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others and for life’. However, in article 2 it discusses that due to the changing moral and ethical standards of society into accepting homosexuals and believing that their union should be recognized under the law, the...