Federal anti-discrimination protections start today

Federal anti-discrimination protections start today

LAST UPDATED // Thursday, 01 August 2013 12:04 Written by // Cec Busby

The amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act, which include federal protections on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status go into force today.

From August 1 2103 any LGBTI Australians who have been discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status will now have recourse to take their complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission and ultimately the Federal Court.

“From today, the Commission will be able to accept, investigate and resolve complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status alongside existing grounds of race, disability, age and sex,” said Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs. “We will be able to accept complaints on these new grounds, which also extend coverage to same-sex couples, for discrimination that occurred on or after 1 August 2013.”

It is hoped that the new laws will assist in addressing the high rates of discrimination experienced by LGBTI people. The amendment to the laws marked the first time intersex people had been included in anti-discrimination law anywhere in the world.

OII Australia President Gina Wilson welcomed the inclusion of intersex in the bills amendments, acknowledging the day-to-day benefits of such a law.

"We welcome the full, authentic inclusion of 'intersex status', a biological attribute, in anti-discrimination law for the first time. We have not previously been recognised in law, and our inclusion is of huge practical benefit,” said Wilson. Wilson also urged the states and territories to add “'intersex status' to their legislation”.

In line with this, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus has indicated he will work with states and territories towards nationally consistent recognition of sex and gender, including in birth certificates.

Victoria Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby's Anna Brown expressed the importance of removing the last vestige of discrimination from Australian law.

"It is important to ensure that these laws provide a new national standard to protect LGBTI people from unfair treatment and harm, including using this 12 month period as an opportunity to audit out-dated state and territory laws and remove the last remnants of unjustifiable discrimination from our statute books," said.

A Gender Agenda Executive Director Peter Hyndal remarked the new laws could have a life changing affect for intersex people.

"This Commonwealth discrimination protection will make a significant and positive impact on the daily experiences of many people. A Gender Agenda particularly welcomes the inclusive definition of gender identity and protection on the basis of intersex status,” said Hyndal.

Professor Triggs added the amendments would address gaps in the current laws to provide protection for intersex.

“Most states and territories have some form of protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Professor Triggs said. “The significance of these federal amendments is that they introduce more inclusive definitions and address gaps - such as where acts or practices of the federal Government have not been covered in the past – and add the new ground of intersex status.”

Justin Koonin NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Co-Convenor acknowledged that the laws were the culmination of decades of lobbying by the LGBTI community and hoped the laws would offer immediate practical protections for our aged LGBTI community members.
 “These laws represent the culmination of over 25 years of advocacy, and will provide much-needed protection at a federal level to LGBTI people. Particularly significant are the reforms around aged-care service provision, which will make discrimination unlawful in any Commonwealth-funded service in the country,” commented Koonin.

More information about the new laws and the national complaints process can be found on the Australian Human Rights Commission Website




Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and online editor of GayNewsNetwork.com.au

Comments (1)

  • Tom Lipscomb

    10 September 2013 at 10:29 |
    Great stuff. However, I take slight issue with your contention that this is "the first time ... anywhere in the world."
    The Qld Act has for some time provided a level of protection for intersex people . Our protection includes people "of indeterminate sex." Unfortunately it adds: " ... and seeks to live as a member of a particular sex." Getting there!


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