Proposed new national laws will give gay and gender diverse people the strongest protections against discrimination in Australia yet.

Federal Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Finance and Deregulation Minister Penny Wong unveiled new draft legislation today that will consolidate the country’s five anti-discrimination Acts into one.

The new Act will include sexual orientation and gender diversity as grounds for discrimination, marking the first time LGBTI people will have national protection.

Government-funded aged care services will also be stripped of religious exemptions so faith-based aged care services will not be allowed to discriminate against older LGBTI people.

“There will be no reduction in existing protections and the highest current standards will be consistently applied and enforced across the full range of discriminatory practices,” Roxon said.

“This project also fulfils our election commitment to introduce sexual orientation and gender diversity as protected grounds of discrimination, heralding a significant and overdue reform in this area.”

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Anna Brown told the Star Observer this was long overdue but an incredibly significant reform for our community.

“For the first time, a national law will outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, protecting our fundamental right to be free from discrimination and harassment,” she said.

Brown said state and territory anti-discrimination laws were patchy and inconsistent so the new national laws would significantly increase protections for the LGBTI community.

“This is hopefully a win-win for everyone,” she said.

“A new simplified regime with stronger protections that actually make sense to people and make it easier to bring a complaint of discrimination.”

The National LGBTI Health Alliance’s Aging and Aged Care working group convenor Corey Irlam said it was fantastic to see older LGBTI people will be guaranteed equal services from government-funded services.

He said concerns from older LGBTI people around religious exemptions for aged care services were raised with the federal Mental Health and Ageing Minister Mark Butler during the recent aged care consultations.

“It’s pleasing to see the Gillard Government has reacted and delivered on protections for older LGBTI people,” he said.

“Aged care workers enter older people’s homes everyday of their lives.

“We want to make sure people who are providing the highest quality care continue to do that in the delivery of government funded services.”

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