Consolidated Bill delayed but LGBTI attributes to be added to Sex Discrimination Act

20 March 2013

The Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC has announced that the Australian Government will not proceed with the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 at this time. In its place, the Australian Government has introduced legislation into Parliament to expand the protection against discrimination on the grounds of 'sex' to include sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 will not consolidate existing pieces of discrimination legislation or address other deficiencies of the existing laws such as exceptions to discrimination for religious institutions, the burden that rests with the complainant to establish discrimination occurred and the limited powers of the Australian Human Rights Commission.  The Government has committed to further considering the possibility of consolidating existing legislation.

Below is an extract from the Attorney-General's and Senator Penny Wong's joint media release:

"The Committee's inquiry into the draft Bill recommended significant policy, definitional and technical amendments which go well beyond the scope of the intended project. Nearly 100 recommendations were identified and will require deeper consideration in the process of consolidating five anti-discrimination acts into one piece of legislation," said Mr Dreyfus.

"Meticulous attention must be applied to striking the appropriate balance between the right to freedom of speech and the right to be protected from discrimination. This is fundamental to our democracy. As recommended by the Senate Committee, the Attorney-General's department will continue working on this project."

Below is an extract from the Australian Greens’ media release in response to the Government announcement:

Labor has dumped its own plans for widespread discrimination reform, demonstrating they don't have the courage of their convictions on social reform, say Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne and Greens Attorney-General Spokesperson Penny Wright.


"The steps to improve the Sex Discrimination Act are welcome and long overdue, but failing to act on other areas sells short many Australians." Greens Attorney-General Spokesperson Senator Penny Wright said.

"It leaves victims of domestic violence open to discrimination; it means religious organisations will be able to continue discriminating against members of the public; and it means taking action against discrimination will remain too complex and challenging.

"The purpose of the law reform was to raise protections to the highest standard and make discrimination claims clear and simple. It was common sense. It is a shame to lose this because Labor does not have the courage of its convictions." 

The Human Rights Law Centre's media release in response to the Government announcement is available here.


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