Wednesday 4 May 2011

Addressing sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity discrimination coverFederal protections needed against sexual orientation and sex/and or gender identity discrimination

There is broad support for federal laws protecting people from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity, the Australian Human Rights Commission has found.

Releasing the Addressing sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity discrimination consultation report today, Commission President and Human Rights Commissioner Catherine Branson QC, said a consultation undertaken last year had heard compelling evidence of the need for such laws.

“The Commission’s consultation revealed numerous and distressing stories of how people’s lives had been impacted and damaged by discrimination, violence or bullying on the basis of their sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity,” Ms Branson said.

“We also heard lots of different views on how human rights protections for this group of people could be strengthened, but by far the most frequently suggested solution was the inclusion of protections in federal laws.”

Ms Branson said federal law protections would give access to legal remedies to people discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity and would also deliver broader positive social implications.

“Providing federal protections against this type of discrimination would be a significant symbolic gesture which would help to bring about attitudinal change and ultimately improve the day-to-day lives of many people of diverse sexual orientations and sex and/or gender identities,” she said.

“Having federal laws which protect people from this type of discrimination, violence, harassment and bullying could particularly help to build self-esteem and resilience in young people.”

Consultation participants also suggested that marriage equality would be an important step towards full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in Australia.

“Importantly, in 2010 both of the major political parties affirmed their support for the inclusion of protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal law,” Ms Branson said.

“The Australian Government reaffirmed its commitment to implementing this policy in its appearance before the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review earlier this year.

“The Commission is therefore pleased to provide this consultation report to assist the Government in its consideration of how these protections might be included in federal law, and of what other steps it might take to protect and promote the human rights of people of all sexual orientations and sex and/or gender identities.”

The Commission undertook public roundtable discussions in Sydney and Melbourne and received comment from more than 150 individuals and organisations.

The report is online:

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Media contact: Louise McDermott (02) 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597