Following this week’s news that the Australian military has accepted its first non-binary recruits, the Defence Force is now reportedly exploring options to dump its gender inclusivity policy.

Dan Tehan, junior minister for Defence Personnel, ordered the department to find a way out of its obligation to accommodate and protect non-binary individuals, according to public service news site The Mandarin.

The same gender inclusivity legislation that protects non-binary people also protects women from gender discrimination.

There are reportedly two non-binary recruits at the Australian Defence Force Academy at present, and seven other non-binary public servants, based on official self-identification of gender as X instead of male or female.

Defence’s move would remove protections for gender-diverse individuals, as well as other protections under the Sex Discrimination Act, including for pregnancy and marital status.

If successful, Defence would be the first department to be granted an exemption to discriminate since the legislation was introduced in 2012.

“The defence of our nation is our first priority and we will examine anything that arises that may impact on our ability to achieve that,” said the department in a statement.

“In this regard, the government and the Australian Defence Force are currently considering the need for an exemption to the Act (Sex Discrimination Act 1984) and the guidelines due to the unique operational requirements of military service.”

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