With IDAHO happening this week, it seems timely to delve further into what the proposed amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act could mean for our community.

While the world focuses on anti-homo/transphobia messages, we face a fight in Victoria to maintain laws protecting our rights to be free from discrimination.

The Equal Rights Victoria website gives some examples of what would be legal should the bill pass.

Two women in a long-term relationship are experiencing difficulties and go to a community health service to see a counsellor. The counsellor refuses to provide services because of his religious views against lesbian relationships.

Students at a religious secondary school find out that one of their classmates is gay. They subject him to name-calling and abuse. The boy tells his parents who ask the school to intervene to stop the bullying, but he is expelled because he refuses to deny that he is gay.

An openly gay couple goes to a charity store to buy furniture. The retailer refuses to serve them because they “don’t have anything for people living that sort of lifestyle”.

In addition to this, outcomes in the lives of GLBTI people due to discrimination often result in more disadvantage. This means we are highly likely to access social services such as housing or counselling services. More and more of these services are moving away from government hands and being tendered to religious organisations.

The VGLRL will work with unions who represent members in these areas to campaign against the amendments to the Act. Staff working in non-government social and community sector organisations are not only worried about discrimination against them as workers, but also discrimination against their clients.

Under the proposed changes, if you experienced this sort of discrimination you couldn’t complain to the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission because discriminating like that would no longer be illegal. There will be no recourse.

People already experience discrimination for being GLBTI in the ways mentioned above, however, this legalises discrimination and will exacerbate it further for the most vulnerable in the GLBTI community.

Write to the state Government and tell them you do not want this bill. All the youth mental health packages in the world will do little when it is legal to discriminate against us.

info: Visit www.equalrightsvictoria.com.au Friend us on Facebook: Victorian GLRL

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