The Act extends protections under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) to the new attributes of ‘gender identity’, ‘sexual orientation’, ‘intersex status’ and ‘relationship status’. The Act also ensures that Commonwealth funded aged-care providers are not able to discrimination in the delivery of services to elderly LGBTI people. The limitation on discrimination in aged care is an important first step in the removal of the broad exemptions for religious organisations, which are unjustified and inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under international human rights law.
The 2013 Act was introduced and passed after the government shelved its 2012 Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill which would have consolidated federal anti-discrimination legislation — a decision met with extreme disappointment from a large number of community and human rights organisations. This followed a Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s report which recommended significant amendments.
ANNA BROWN, Human Rights Law Centre, Melbourne.