by Rex Wockner
International News Briefs
Centrelink, the Australian government’s social-benefits agency, will treat gay de facto couples as married for benefits purposes starting July 1.
While the move increases equality, it also will result in a loss of benefits for some coupled gays, who previously qualified based on their individual income.
Centrelink assistance encompasses such things as health care, prescription drugs, unemployment payments, disaster aid, rent subsidies, aid to single parents and a wide range of other benefits and welfare programs.
“From 1 July 2009 changes to legislation will mean that customers who are in a same-sex de facto relationship will be recognised as partnered for Centrelink and Family Assistance Office purposes,” says the agency’s Web site. “All customers who are assessed as being a member of a couple will have their rate of payment calculated in the same way.”