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Sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex amendments a step closer to full equality

Identity LGBTI

The passing of amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act yesterday means there are new legal protections under federal law and new grounds on which gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people can lodge a complaint.

Australian Human Rights Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs, said the passage of the Sex Discrimination (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 was a significant milestone for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

“Protections from discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act have now been extended to grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status,” Professor Triggs said. “The existing ground of ‘marital status’ has also been extended to ‘marital or relationship status’, effectively providing protection from discrimination for same-sex de facto couples.”

These changes mean the Commission will now be able to accept, investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination on these grounds.

The amendments which passed yesterday have also qualified the existing exemption in the Act for religious organisations that provide Commonwealth-funded aged care services.

Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan said, “This change means that older gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people will no longer have to worry about experiencing discrimination when seeking to enter Commonwealth-funded aged care, regardless of the religious beliefs of the service provider.”

Commissioner Ryan, said this was a very reassuring change.

“The passage of the Bill is a significant statement from our Parliament to the people of Australia that this type of discrimination is not acceptable in our society,” Professor Triggs said.

Professor Triggs said the Commission is now looking forward to engaging with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals and organisations, as well as the business sector, to provide guidance on the rights and obligations provided by these new amendments.

The Commission has long advocated for federal protections from discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, including through its consultation report, Addressing sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity discrimination, released in 2011.

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529