The Gay and Lesbian Immigration Task Force (GLITF) was formed in 1983 and has worked since then to obtain equality for same sex couples in the Migration process. Over the last 30 years, GLITF has been working quietly behind the scenes to make it possible for Australians to bring our partners home to live with us in Australia. It has been a long road but in 1990 Interdependent Partners were first recognised in the Migration Regulations. Since then, we saw incremental changes until July 2009, when the final parts of the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Act 2008 come into operation. These significant changes in legislation included redefining the meaning of “de facto partner” to include the words “whether of the same sex or a different sex”. We are now on equal footing with opposite-sex de facto partners. However, as same sex marriage is still not recognised in Australia, we have to meet the 12 months cohabitation requirement and this is still a difficulty we face. We recognise that various through various state-based relationship registration scheme, the onerous 12 months pre-existing de-facto relationship rule may be avoided however for some couples, this is still problematic.
GLITF has achieved almost all it wanted when we first started. However, we are now in the era of the internet which means many of us are meeting partners on-line. There must always be something to strive for and we think the next step should be to recognise the difficulties in meeting the 12 months cohabitation requirement or requirements for relationship registration by making a temporary visa available designed to test relationships while working to meet the 12 months cohabitation. The visa should be available at least offshore and should give permission to work. At the end of the 12 months the normal 2 stage process for a partner visas could start.