An Australian Human Rights Commission report into the need for federal legislation protecting people from discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and sex or gender identity has been welcomed by the Australian Coalition for Equality (ACE) and the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL).
“After 15 years of waiting, and with bi-partisan support now available, there’s never been a better time for the federal government to finally take action on this issue,” ACE spokesman Corey Irlam said, referring to a Senate inquiry held 15 years ago into the need for federal protections against discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and sex or gender identity.
“The process is far from over [and] in many ways its only just beginning. We need to continue educating law makers and policy makers about what these laws mean and why they’re important enough to be put on the legislative agenda.
“With the recent bipartisan support, we hope that the consultation draft of the Governments bill will include all the important aspects mentioned in the report and laws will be passed sometime in 2012.”
NSW GLRL co-convenor Rathana Chea said his organisation was concerned the AHRC report had not examined the issue of exemptions and exceptions in Australia’s anti-discrimination laws.
“No exemptions should be available to organisations that are publicly funded or provide government services to the community,” Chea said.
He noted that the consultation had found that people still experience systemic discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and sex or gender identity in workplaces, schools and accessing appropriate aged care services.
“The absence of comprehensive Federal anti-discrimination laws means LGBTI people continue to be unfairly discriminated against in many areas of their lives,” Chea said.