In Australia, Edward Young finally proved that he had the right to claim Larry Cains’ pension. They had been together for thirty years. Young and Cains met while they were in London in the 1960′s. Young was a model, and Cains a photographer. Cains had also served in the Australian Army on the Borneo front during WWII. “He was desperately handsome. We spent two weeks together and I told him I wanted to spend my life with him,” said Mr Young.
Mr. Cains passed away a decade ago.
This year, Young, a resident of Sydney, will become the first gay partner to benefit from changes in Australia’s laws. In November 2008, Australia passed a law granting gay partners of veterans to claim the benefits of their loved ones.
It all began in a small law office where Young went to apply for his widowers pension after the passing of his partner of thirty-eight years. To his shock and horror, he found that the Veterans’ Entitlements Act limited the definition of couple to people of the opposite sex. Since Larry Cains was most assuredly not of the opposite sex, Edward Young could not receive the pension that was the right of most veterans’ survivors.
The wording jolted Young, who admitted that the pension was less of a necessity for him than it might be for others. Young, who had lived through years of anti-homosexual discrimination, was determined to take on “that little man”, meaning Prime Minister John Howard. So, he took it to the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights.
“I wanted a decision that wouldn’t just apply to my own circumstances. What I wanted was something that would apply right across the board. I wanted something that would say that, yes, there was discrimination and it didn’t just apply to me. It applied to all facets of our law,” Young is quoted as saying. In 2003, the UN found that the Australian government had violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This ruling was used by many countries to justify changing their own laws regarding pensions, but not the Australian ruling party- the Liberals.
But then, something happened in December of 2007, the Liberals lost. While it took almost a year to write and pass the legislation, the Labor Party under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd finally passed the changes to the legislation which gave long time gay partners of veterans the right to claim their pension.
The changes go into effect in July of 2009, according to the spokeswoman for Veteran’s Affairs Minister Alan Griffin. Edward Young says that he does not mind waiting another six months for the rights he has fought for ten years to obtain.
Sei is a trans-lesbian who lives in Vermont and has a strong passion for LGBTI rights. She has a BA in History and her hobbies include sci-fi, anime, fantasy, action movies, video games, and more. You can visit her Blogger profile here.