THE Victorian Greens have released a draft bill aimed at amending discriminatory legislation and improving the rights of LGBTI people across the state.
The Equal Opportunity Amendment (LGBTI Equality) Bill 2016 proposes a number of changes to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, including improved rights and protection for intersex and gender diverse people.
“This is an election commitment of ours to get rid of these blanket exemptions in the Equal Opportunity Act,” he told the Star Observer.
“So this is following through on our community promise.”
The draft bill seeks to remove the right of faith-based schools and organisations to discriminate against LGBTI people based on religious beliefs.
This follows the Victorian Parliament’s recent decision to allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt, while maintaining the rights of religious adoption services to discriminate.
“We looked at the existing act and looked for inconsistencies,” Hibbins said.
“But we’re opening up the consultation because we want to get it right… I’ll be seeking feedback from individuals and interested parties, as it’s important the vast majority of those in the community are supportive of these changes.
“There’s no timeline for tabling the bill, it’s about getting it right.”
The bill also inserts a definition of intersex people to increase their protection for the first time in Victoria, and updates the definition of gender identity to be more inclusive of trans and gender diverse people.
Equality Minister Martin Foley said the government would consider any proposed bill tabled in parliament.
“We delivered on our election commitment to put equality back on the agenda,” he told the Star Observer.
“This demonstrates a proven track record, one that shows that we aren’t just commentators in LGBTI equality, but acting to ensure equality is never negotiable.
“As usual, we will consider any and all legislation put before parliament.”
The bill has been released online, detailing the proposed amendments and allowing for community members to leave feedback.
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Sean Mulcahy said the Greens must ensure they engage with the community.
“This bill meets some of the needs of the community to ensure we have equal laws in Victoria,” he said.
“With any law reform of this magnitude, it is critical there is broad and consistent engagement with the LGBTI and wider human rights community.
“We would encourage the community to make their views known as part of the consultation.”
Human Rights Law Centre advocacy director Anna Brown agreed with Mulcahy.
“While this bill addresses some of the weaknesses in our equal opportunity laws, we encourage the Greens to consult with discrimination experts and other vulnerable groups,” she said.
“We look forward to working with the government and all political parties to make sure our laws are working to protect vulnerable people from the harmful effects of discrimination.”
Read the full Equal Opportunity Amendment (LGBTI Equality) Bill 2016.