Minister for Emergency Management
Minister for the Public Service and Integrity
The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing
Minister for Housing and Homelessness
Minister for Social Inclusion
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform
The Hon Mark Butler MP
Joint Media Release
New protections for sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex people pass the House
The Gillard Government is moving to better protect Australians from discrimination, through legislation passed by the House of Representatives today.
The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill will make it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.
"These new protections are long overdue and I'm delighted we are bringing them one step closer," Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC said.
"The absence of these protections at the Federal level means that many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community have been victims of discrimination when accessing accommodation, healthcare, and everyday consumer services.
"The Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has tabled its report and urged passage of the Bill this parliamentary term."
The Attorney-General also announced the Government would look to move amendments to the Bill in the Senate to insert a qualification on the exemption for religious organisations for the provision of Commonwealth-funded aged care services.
This amendment would reflect the views of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which found "it is fundamentally important that all older Australians maintain the right to access aged care services on an equal basis."
The Committee noted that "in some areas of Australia there is very limited choice of aged care service providers, and hence does not agree with the argument that individuals will always be able to choose a non-religious service provider should they so wish."
Minister for Ageing Mark Butler, said the proposed amendments would ensure older couples and individuals would no longer need to worry about experiencing discrimination when accessing aged care services.
"While most aged care service providers are accepting of residents regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, we think there should be legal protection that ensures such discrimination cannot occur," Mr Butler said.
"When such services are provided with tax payer dollars, it is not appropriate for providers to discriminate in the provision of those services."
The legislation will also protect same-sex de facto couples from discrimination by extending the ground of marital status in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to include relationship status.
The new protections build upon the Governments reforms to eighty-five Commonwealth Acts which removed discrimination against same-sex couples and their children.
Work continues on the draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill following the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee's report which recommended significant policy, definitional and technical amendments.
While this work is being completed, the current Bill will provide important protections against discrimination in our community.
THURSDAY, 30 MAY 2013