The Liberal Party, led by PM Scott Morrison, on Wednesday voted against an amendment to the Fair Work Act that would have protected trans, gender diverse and intersex persons from discrimination at the work place. 

LGBTQI+ rights activists questioned the Morrison government for its decision to vote down the changes to the law as part of the [email protected] package that were proposed by Greens senator Janet Rice. The Labor and Greens supported the amendment, but the Morrison government opposed it. 

The amendments moved by Senator Rice to the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill 2021, said that the protection for existing attributes like race, disability, sex and sexual orientation, should be broadened to include gender identity and sex characteristics. 

Protections For TGD & Intersex Persons

If passed, it would have meant that trans, gender diverse and inter sex persons would be given the same protections under the anti-discrimination laws, as available to others in Australia. 

“This was a simple, straightforward amendment that would have brought consistency to federal law and would have brought greater job security to trans, gender diverse and intersex Australians,” Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Dr Charlie Burton said in a statement. 

 Burton pointed to surveys that showed that trans, gender diverse and inter sex persons “suffer higher rates of unemployment and lower incomes than other Australians.” 

 “Surveys also show that transgender Australians experience greater workplace discrimination than gay and lesbian Australians who are already protected, making the former’s protection under the Fair Work Act even more urgent. It beggars belief that the Government would be so hard-hearted as to vote this amendment down,” added Burton. 

Coalition Votes Down Protection Against Sexual Harassment

And it was not just the LGBTQI+ community that was at the receiving end of the Coalition’s ‘No’ votes. 

The Liberals also voted down recommendations in the [email protected] package that would protect women from sexual harassment at the work place.

The recommendations included changing workplace laws to ban sexual harassment; require employers to try to stop sexual harassment at the workplace; make equality between men and women an objective of the Sex Discrimination Act; protect victims from massive legal bills for taking legal action against their perpetrators; and let unions bring legal action on behalf of victims against perpetrators. 

Women’s rights activists and politicians took to social media to criticise the Morrison government;s decision to vote against the changes and the hashtag #wedontwait started to trend on Twitter. 

“The Morrison Government has just voted AGAINST ensuring employers must take action to prevent sexual harassment. This Government’s women problem runs deep,” Victoria Labor senator Jess Walsh posted on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Labor also voted against a Green amendment to protect workers from sex characteristics intead of inter sex status. The term sex characteristics is is preferered by intersex activists as it cobers a broader group of people.


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