New LGBT and intersex anti-discrimination protections passed by the Australian Parliament in June have come into effect, starting August 1.
Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus announced yesterday that new laws to provide protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status had come into effect.
‘This Labor Government has a proud record of advancing the rights of all Australians,’ Dreyfus said.
‘These laws will ensure greater protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians, particularly through barring discrimination in the provision of Commonwealth funded aged-care services.
‘While the vast majority of aged care service providers are accepting and welcoming of all Australians, this new law will make sure such discrimination cannot occur.’
The regulations will temporarily exempt actions taken in order to comply with Commonwealth, State and Territory law but the exemption will end on 31 July 2014 and will be replaced by exemptions for specific laws.
‘The one year initial exemption period allows State and Territory governments time to review their laws,’ Dreyfus said.
‘The Government will carefully consider any requests for ongoing exemptions. The Government will also be working with the States and Territories towards a nationally consistent approach to recognizing sex and gender, including birth certificates.’
Under the new laws aged care providers owned by religious groups will no longer be able to discriminate against people based on their LGBT or intersex identity or same-sex relationship status.
LGBT and intersex groups welcomed the commencement of federal protections on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status and, marital or relationship status.
The new laws mean that LGBT and intersex Australians who have been discriminated against on the basis of their identity or relationship status may take their complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission and after that the Federal Courts.
‘This Commonwealth discrimination protection will make a significant and positive impact on the daily experiences of many people,’ A Gender Agenda Executive Director Peter Hyndal said.
‘A Gender Agenda particularly welcomes the inclusive definition of gender identity and protection on the basis of intersex status.’
‘We welcome the full, authentic inclusion of “intersex status,” a biological attribute, in anti-discrimination law for the first time,’ Organization Intersex International (OII) Australia President Gina Wilson said.
‘We have not previously been recognized in law, and our inclusion is of huge practical benefit.
‘We welcome the recognition that people born with intersex are not subject to religious exemptions, and we urge states and territories to add “intersex status” to their legislation.’
‘The new law will greatly assist systemic change to improve lives and make processes easier for trans and gender diverse individuals in the case of a complaint,’ Transgender Victoria spokesperson Sally Goldner said.
‘We also urge state and territory governments to amend their definitions of gender identity in line with the new federal definition to ensure simplicity and effectiveness for all parties.’
The gay and lesbian rights lobbies representing the states of New South Wales and Victoria also welcomed the new protections coming into effect.
‘These laws will have an immediate, practical benefit for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, including protection from discrimination for the first time for federal employees and ensuring access to services such as [welfare payments] and Medicare on an equal footing with all other Australians,’ Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby convener Anna Brown said.
‘It is important to ensure that these laws provide a new national standard to protect LGBTI people from unfair treatment and harm, including using this 12 month period as an opportunity to audit outdated state and territory laws and remove the last remnants of unjustifiable discrimination from our statute books.’
‘These laws represent the culmination of over 25 years of advocacy, and will provide much-needed protection at a federal level to LGBTI people,’ NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convener Justin Koonin said
‘Particularly significant are the reforms around aged-care service provision, which will make discrimination unlawful in any Commonwealth-funded service in the country.’