A number of prominent New South Wales community organisations have written an open letter to NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman, calling on him to commission an independent review of the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act.

Enacted in 1977, the last comprehensive review of the Anti-Discrimination Act was completed by the NSW Law Reform Commission in the late 1990s. But its recommendations were never implemented, with recent parliamentary inquiries having recognised that an overhaul is now well overdue.

“NSW was a leader in taking action on discrimination when it passed the ADA in 1977. It is now lagging behind.  The ADA is out of step with community expectations.”

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“It is also out of step with the law on discrimination applying across other Australian jurisdictions, making it costly for business and confusing for individuals. This legislation is no longer fit for purpose,” The letter reads.

Worst Anti-Discrimination Law In Australia

Among the signatories of the joint open letter were The NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, The Gender Centre, ACON, Intersex Human Rights Australia and The Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

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“The anti-discrimination act is the worst anti-discrimination law in Australia, and nowhere is that more apparent than in terms of the lack of protections for LGBTQI+ people. It’s the only anti-discrimination law in the county which doesn’t protect bisexuals. The NSW Anti-discrimination Act also doesn’t cover non-binary people or people with innate variations of sex characteristics, ” Alastair Lawrie, PIAC’s Policy Manager told Star Observer.

As Lawrie points out NSW Anti-Discrimination Act in 1982, was the first anti-discrimination law in Australia to cover homosexuality.

“This is why it so disappointing that it now the worse in the country in terms of LGBTQI coverage.”

“The specific exemptions for private educational authorities are also unique in that they apply to schools and colleges irrespective of if they are religious or not, while the general exceptions for religious organisations are also the equal broadest in the country,” said Lawrie.

No Protection For LGBTQI+ Students

Currently there are no protections for LGBTQI+ students in religious schools within NSW.  Students in NSW can lawfully be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

“The Act needs to be updated to ensure LGBTQI+ people have access to the same remedies and are put on the same standard of protection as other groups. The Act is a mess, it needs to be updated because it is failing vulnerable groups in the community,” Lawrie added.

“We  are calling on the Attorney General to update the Act for the benefit for LGBTQI+ people but also a wide range of other groups in the state who also deserve better protection against discrimination.”

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