Today, new protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status come into effect, The Attorney-General announced.
The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013 defines sexual orientation as a person’s sexual orientation towards persons of the same sex, persons of a different sex, or both. Terminology like “homosexual”, “straight”, “lesbian”, etc. are not used to avoid offense or inaccuracy, but the intention is to cover those orientations.
Gender identity refers to the identity, appearance, mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of a person. This includes how a person expresses or presents their gender and recognises a person may have an identity other than male or female. Whether a person has undergone medical intervention or not is irrelevant.
Intersex status refers to the status of having physical, hormonal or genetic features that are neither wholly female nor male, a combination of female or male, or neither female or male. Intersex is about biological variations, not gender identity.
Additionally, these amendments also extend the definition of marital status to ‘marital or relationship status’, which encompasses de facto same-sex couples.
“From today, the Commission will be able to accept, investigate and resolve complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status alongside existing grounds of race, disability, age and sex,” Professor Gillian Triggs, president of The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), said. “We will be able to accept complaints on these new grounds, which also extend coverage to same-sex couples, for discrimination that occurred on or after 1 August 2013.”
Professor Triggs said the AHRC is looking forward to engaging LGBTI individuals and organisations as well as government and business sectors to offer guidance on the rights and obligations under these new amendments.
A more detailed look at the changes can be viewed here.