Gay rights advocates will rail against religious exemptions in any future federal anti-discrimination legislation designed to protect LGBTI people.

The federal Attorney-General’s department is consulting with the community on its draft National Human Rights Action Plan, which has included a commitment to include sexual orientation and sex and gender identity as part of a new consolidated federal anti-discrimination act.

National LGBTI Health Alliance CEO Warren Talbot told the Star Observer the Alliance will make a submission on a range of areas, including on any exemptions which may allow religious organisations a free reign to discriminate against LGBTI people.

“The Government has already committed to including [sexual orientation and sex and gender identity] in the general [anti-discrimination] law, so I think we’ll get that, it’s just a question of how strong it will be and that will come down to exemptions,” Talbot said.

The Alliance will argue that many tax payer-funded services are delivered by faith-based organisations, particularly in the health and aged care sectors, and exemptions for these organisations sends a message it’s not safe for LGBTI people to reveal their sex or gender identity or sexuality.

Australian Coalition for Equality (ACE) spokesman Rodney Croome said ACE would advocate for anti-discrimination law protection, marriage equality and issues relating to LGBTI health and aging and bullying in schools.
“[Federal anti-discrimination law] is extremely important as states correspond as a patchwork and those individual laws provide more or less protection,” he said.

“Federal law applies comprehensive protection for all Australian’s regardless of which state they live in.”
Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII) president Gina Wilson said intersex protections must be spelled out.

“The undertaking is no one will be disadvantaged,” Wilson said.

“We hope that intersex is protected in a number of areas, but particularly on the basis of sex characteristics, that is people who are anatomically not strictly male or female be protected.

“At the moment, even though [intersex people] may be assigned male or female, we are only uncertainly protected.”
LGBTI rights advocates will be dealing with a new ministerial head with former health minister Nicola Roxon appointed Australia’s first female Attorney-General.

Roxon said she plans to “freshen up” Australia’s anti-discrimination laws and, departing from her past opposition, indicated support for same-sex marriage.

INFO: Submissions for the draft Action Plan close on February 29 2012.

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