Discrimination Reform Needs Your Input

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pic by Adrian Perez

Very few people have made submissions to the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 Senate inquiry.

As usual, the anti’s are there, but we need more pro submissions. The Bill is badly flawed, as I have pointed out before, with extensive religious ‘exemptions’ (better called ‘privileges’), and doesn’t even include the promised protection for aged care service recipients.

In a recent conversation with the Attorney General, he suggested that these would be left until the main package of anti-discrimination measures, which are unlikely to pass before the election.

You have until Friday to post your submission here

And when you’ve done it, please email tweet or Facebook everyone you know and ask them to do the same. Send them a link to this article.

This is my submission: please feel free to use and adapt as you see fit.

This is a long-overdue measure: however, it does contain one glaring anomaly.

While the revised act would for the first time make it a crime to discriminate against LGBTI people, as promised, the extaordinary special privileges allowing religious age-care providers to refuse to assist or house LGBTI people remain.

The major religious age care providers, Anglicare Victoria, Uniting Care and Catholic Health, have told me they do not discriminate either in employment or in service delivery, and think the exemptions should go.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has issued a statement supporting the removal of religious exemptions in respect of aged care:

“The deferred exposure draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill proposed removal of the exemption that allows church based aged care providers to exclude LGBTI people.

President Triggs said that “as this change was not contentious, it should be included in the Sex discrimination amendment bill now before the parliament.”

“It is clearly widely supported, is a simple change and actually reflects current polices of most church based aged care providers,” she said.”

The opposition does not object: they supported the removal of this privilege during the consultation process.

There was little opposition to the removal of these privileges during the consulatation process on the overhaul of all anti-discrimination law.

In some parts of the country, the ONLY age-care providers, whether residential or in-home, are religious owned/run: LGBT people in those areas risk having no care available to them, except on condition they ‘go back in the closet’, and are potentially cut off or restricted from interacting with their lifelong partner and their community, which could hasten their deaths.

There is little sense in adding LGBTI to the Sex Disrimination Act, and then exempting the people most keen to discrimate against us, from having to obey the same law as everyone else.

This is doubly unjust, in that many of them will be providing services paid for by taxpayers – including LGBTI taxpayers. Services they will be able to refuse to LGBTI people at one of the most vulnerable time of their lives.

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About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)