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Intersex included in Australian draft discrimination bill

Senate committee recommends new anti-discrimination law be passed listing 'intersex' separately as a protected identity
Gina Wilson, president of Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia

Following calls from LGBTI rights groups and legal experts, the Australian Senate committee drafting the new Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill has recommended that 'intersex' be included as a category in its own right in the proposed law.

'The committee recognizes that intersex individuals are often the subject of discrimination in public life, and that as such there is a need for protection on the basis of intersex status in Commonwealth anti-discrimination law,' said the report published today.

The report said the committee agreed with campaigners that 'intersex is a matter of biology rather than gender identity,' so protection from discrimination was not covered by the definition of gender identity in the draft bill.

'This is a profoundly important report in that it recognizes that intersex is a “matter of biology rather than gender identity”, and reflects “innate biological characteristics”,' said Gina Wilson, president of Organization Intersex International Australia (OII Australia).

'Internationally it represents best practice, proposing the explicit inclusion of intersex people in anti-discrimination legislation for only the second time anywhere [after Tasmania].'

The Senate committee's report added that 'since intersex status is a condition related to the innate biological characteristics of an individual, it should not be an attribute to which any religious exceptions apply'.

Regarding religious exceptions, the committee recommended that they be removed from religious groups who provide services, but remain for employment.

Wilson thanked the many LGBTI rights groups and legal experts, including New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, the National Association of Community Legal Centres and Australian Human Rights Commission, who added their voices to the call for 'intersex' to be listed separately on the Bill.

If passed, the new law would protect the rights of sexual orientation and gender identity minorities from discrimination in Australia for the first time.

'This is an historic reform that is long overdue, and will provide significant benefits to sex and gender diverse Australians,' said the Senate committee's report.

Victoria Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL), OII Australia and TransGender Victoria released a joint statement today calling for the government to pass the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill into law before the next election.

'We urge the government to adopt the recommendations of the committee and pass the legislation as soon as possible, to deliver on its commitment to introduction discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said VGLRL convener Anna Brown.

Intersexion, a documentary about the difficulties that intersex people face in society, is showing at Sydney Mardi Gras film festival this month and Melboure Queer Film Festival next month.

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