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Lobby calls for reform to victims of crime laws

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The Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) has made a submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s review of the Victim of Crime Assistance Act, calling on the law reform body to recommend changes to the Act better protect Victorian LGBTI people.

One of the VGLRL’s major concerns is that the Act may limit the ability of unmarried same-sex partners to access compensation.
 
"There is no guarantee that unmarried same-sex partners, including those in registered relationships, will be recognised as related victims of crime. This is out-of-step with contemporary values and, moreover, unfairly discriminates against unmarried partners," said VGLRL Co-Convenor Dale Park.

The VGLRL has recommended that the law be changed to allow unmarried same-sex partners to access compensation without a time or living together requirement on the relationship.

“There are a number of different definitions of domestic partner used throughout Victorian law, which is one of the faults of de facto couple recognition in the state. The Victorian Government has committed to examine proposals for further reform to strengthen the rights of same-sex couples in this term of government, and we expect that this is one of the issues that they will address,” said Mr Park.

The VGLRL is also concerned that the Act contains strict requirements that an act of violence be reported to police within a reasonable time.

“LGBTI people are more reluctant to report violence to police because of actual or perceived discrimination and harassment, including a fear of ‘outing’,” said Mr Park.

The VGLRL has recommended that the sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status of the victim as a factor to be taken into account in determining whether an act of violence was reported to police within a reasonable time, and that the Act should provide for alternative reporting provisions, including reporting to professionals, agencies and peer support groups.

“We look forward to consulting with the Law Reform Commission and the Government on reforming the law to provide better access to compensation for LGBTI victims of crime. LGBTI victims of crime and their partners should not have to jump through unnecessary hoops in order to access compensation,” concluded Mr Park.

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