On May 4 the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released 2011 Addressing Sexual Orientation and Sex and/or Gender Identity Discrimination: Consultation Report — available at www.humanrights.gov.au — which summarises submissions received and results of roundtable discussions in Melbourne and Sydney.

Although the report’s authors addressed religious exceptions and exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation, they did not come to any conclusion about how, or whether, these should be included in federal anti-discrimination legislation. They suggested that “there should be further consultation and careful consideration of this issue”.

Where it dealt with the specific experiences and concerns of people from different letters of the alphabet soup, around 45 percent of the report addressed the issues of transgendered people. These included workplace discrimination during and after transition; service provision in health and aged care; emergency housing; use of toilets; violence in public; bullying at school; documentation; terminology; public education; funding for transgender-specific services; incarceration in prisons.

About 37 percent of the report was devoted to intersex people’s specific needs regarding discrimination in service provision; employment; health care; use of changerooms; public abuse; documentation; terminology; public education; marriage equality.

Topics of specific concern, in the 8 percent of the report devoted to gay men’s needs for protection, referred to public abuse; discrimination in employment; HIV status; and bullying at school.

The only identified concerns of lesbians, included in 5 percent of the report, were public abuse; bullying at school; and discrimination in employment. While there was one sentence referring to “concerns about the increased risk of violence for lesbian women who may be discriminated against on the basis of being female (their sex) and their sexual orientation”, this issue was not teased out.

Although they were addressed in submissions to the AHRC, the report did not cover specific needs of lesbians regarding aged care, health care, terminology, emergency housing, sport, violence against lesbians, public education, or funding for lesbian-specific organisations.

info: Barbary Clarke is co-convenor of the VGLRL’s Policy Working Group.

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