Laws to protect LGBTI community from discrimination introduced

Date: Aug 01, 2013

On August 1, the Attorney-General introduced legislation that will protect members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community from discrimination.

These federal protections, officially known as the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013, are effective from today and have been welcomed by a wide range of LGBTI organisations.

A person who is discriminated against because of their gender identity; sexual orientation; intersex, marital or relationship status can now file a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The Commission, said President Gillian Triggs, will be able to "accept, investigate and resolve" such a complaint.

In a press statement released by a number of high-profile LGBTI organisations, including OII Australia, A Gender Agenda and the NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, it was said that this legislation will go a long way toward addressing "the alarmingly high levels of discrimination" experienced by this community.

The Act was given royal assent in June 2013. It will protect same-sex couples, as well as individuals.

"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," said Professor Triggs.

Support for the Act has been pouring in today, with Peter Hyndal, executive director of A Gender Agenda, saying it will have a "significant and positive impact" on the people of Australia.

Mr Hyndal was joined by Gina Wilson, president of OII Australia, in congratulating the Act on its "inclusive definition of gender identity".

Ms Wilson also welcomed the inclusion of "intersex status" in the Act, revealing that people who identify as intersex had not been recognised by legislation before.

"Our inclusion is of huge practical benefit," she said.

Dr Justin Koonin, who is co-convener for the NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, said the legislation represented a "culmination of over 25 years of advocacy".

Dr Koonin's Victoria counterpart, Anna Brown, added that members of the LGBTI community will now have access to services such as Medicare and Centrelink, just like all other Australians.

Craddock Murray Neumann's family lawyers have been working with individuals and couples in the LGBTI community for many years.

If you need family law advice, contact us today.