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Australia outlaws LGBT discrimination under national laws for first time

Australian lawmakers have voted to extend the country’s Sex Discrimination Act to cover LGBT and intersex people but religious organizations and the businesses they own will still be able to discriminate in most cases
Gina Wilson of Organization Intersex International Australia
photo by OII Australia

Australian lawmakers have voted to make discrimination against LGBT people illegal at a national level for the first time, although religious bodies will still be mostly exempt in line with state level legislation when it comes to LGBTs.

But for the first time aged care providers who are owned by religious groups will no longer be able to exclude people from aged care based on their LGBT or same-sex relationship status.

Religious bodies sought no exemption for intersex people and so none was given.

Religious groups will still be able to discriminate against people based on their LGBT status when it comes to healthcare, education and employment.

The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 passed its third reading on the voices, showing overwhelming support for the reform in the Parliament.

Justin Koonin, a co-convenor of the New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Lobby took to Facebook to celebrate the news.

‘After 18 years of advocacy, we finally have federal anti-discrimination protection on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status,’ Koonin wrote.

‘The Bill just passed the House of Representatives. Fantastic work to everyone who has worked so hard for this.’

Gina Wilson, president of the group Organization Intersex International Australia welcomed the historic move.

‘The legislation comes after a strenuous and exhausting process of educating and lobbying,’ Wilson wrote in an online statement.

‘We acknowledge with great thanks all of those who helped, particularly our LGBT allies, who went to the trouble of understanding and including intersex in their own efforts to bring about this historic legislative change.

‘In acknowledging this, we note that intersex organizations were the only completely unfunded group who had to argue for our place in this law. Though this legislation is fundamental to intersex rights there still remains significant work to do for intersex activists. And we need funding and support to do this.’

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