Four years ago Ben’s partner, Nathan, died suddenly. They had been a de-facto couple for five years living in a house that they jointly owned. Legally, they were a couple under state law. But the Coroner’s Office ignored all this and refused to recognise their relationship or treat Ben as the next of kin.
Ben was not allowed to see Nathan’s body and was initially denied the right to attend Nathan’s funeral.
Ben wants to make sure no-one else goes through the trauma that he went through so he took a case to the Anti-Discrimination Commission. But the Tasmanian Government is fighting him every step of the way.
The Anti-Discrimination Commissioner has found the Coroner’s Office has a case to answer, and the Coroner admitted two years after Nathan’s death that he and Ben were in a relationship. But the Government still refuses to accept any responsibility for what it did.
Instead, it is arguing that the case should be dismissed because it believes the Coroner is exempt from anti-discrimination law.
Ben needs to raise $20,000 to cover the cost of challenging the Tasmanian Government in court. Join us in helping Ben defend the rights of all Australians to fairness under the law.
What Ben wants?
The Tasmanian Coroner’s Office refused to recognise Ben as Nathan’s senior-next-of-kin despite Tasmanian law recognising he was. It should be a clear-cut case of discrimination, but rather than accepting fault and ensuring that it never happens again the Coroner’s Office has:
- refused to comply with repeated requests for information from the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner
- applied to the Tasmanian Supreme Court to have the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner barred from making any findings against them
- argued that the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal was unable to hear the case because the Coroner’s Office is immune from anti-discrimination law
In Tasmania, no legal proceedings can be brought against the Coroner “unless it was done in bad faith”.
In Ben’s opinion, the Coroner’s failure to apply the law is bad faith. Also, the Tasmanian Coroner’s Office has a history of poor conduct against same-sex couples. Several years ago the Coroner refused to recognise another bereaved same-sex partner as next of kin. Ben believes this history also points to bad faith.
Ben wants the Coroner’s Office to be answerable for its discriminatory actions.
Who is helping Ben?
Hobart solicitor, Ben Bartl, is providing free advice to Ben. Ben Bartl is a solicitor with the Hobart Community Legal Service and has been involved in a number of successful discrimination cases.
Melbourne barrister, Ron Merkel QC will represent Ben Jago in the Tasmanian Supreme Court, pro bono.
Equality Tasmania and its spokesperson, Rodney Croome, are also providing Ben with support.
What will happen to money raised?
If Ben loses, the money raised will pay court costs. If Ben wins, the money will be split between a number of local and national support and advocacy organisations.
What is Ben’s story?
For Ben’s story in his own words, read this heart-breaking article from the Launceston Examiner
For more about Ben’s story, read this article in the Sydney Morning Herald
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