Monday, 27 May 2013
Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013; Report from Committee
Judi Moylan (Pearce, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source
by leave—I support the words of the chair of the committee, the member for Moreton, on this particular report, and I thank members of the committee who have deliberated on it. During the government's initial attempt to consolidate all antidiscrimination legislation under one act, it came to light that sexuality based discrimination had not been addressed in Commonwealth law. Addressing this shortcoming is necessary, and as a result the government has proposed a separate bill which was the subject of the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee's inquiry. From that inquiry, the committee has unanimously recommended the passage of the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013. The bill will extend the protection from discrimination to the new grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status and extend the existing ground of 'marital status' to 'marital or relationship status' to provide protection from discrimination for same-sex de facto couples.
No submissions were necessary as, when the exposure draft of the consolidated antidiscrimination legislation was inquired into, more than 3,000 submissions were received by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. Whilst the coalition opposed a consolidated antidiscrimination bill for a number of different reasons, the coalition senators' dissenting report in regard to that inquiry did note an area for reform, and I think it is worth repeating here. It reads:
… Coalition senators were impressed with one part of the evidence before the inquiry—that from the GLBTI community, who pointed out that none of the Commonwealth Acts which deal with anti-discrimination law extend to sexuality-based discrimination. This is, in our view, an obvious gap, which should be addressed. People in that category are no doubt vulnerable to unfair discrimination. Discrimination against members of that community is unacceptable by modern community standards, and is reflected in the removal in 2008—on a bipartisan basis—of all discriminatory treatment from Commonwealth legislation. It is also consistent with the policy which the Coalition took to the 2010 election. A simple amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act, which includes sexuality (or, for completeness, identity as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex person) as a protected attribute, would overcome that lacuna.
The committee is of the view that the protection of citizens from discrimination is a core matter of social justice and the proposed legislative change will address the gaps in the current antidiscrimination legal framework. It is a necessary and overdue change, and for that reason the committee is also calling upon the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to try and conclude its deliberations so that this bill may be considered by both houses before the forthcoming election, as my colleague the member for Moreton said.