Sex Discrimination Act amendments welcomed by LGBTI community

Date: Jun 26, 2013

A series of reforms were made to the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 on Tuesday (June 25) as part of the Sex Discrimination (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Amendment Bill 2013.

These amendments will see lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) Australians being better protected under federal anti-discrimination law.

In particular, they have removed religious exemptions for Commonwealth-funded aged-care providers.

Until now, religious providers had been able to discriminate against older LGBTI people requesting access to aged-care services.

The New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW GLRL) has welcomed the reforms.

Dr Justin Koonin, NSW GLRL's co-convenor, called it a "historic day" for both the LGBTI community and Australia as a whole.

"It is the first time that the Federal Parliament has voted to include protections for LGBTI people in anti-discrimination law and to remove exemptions for religious providers, in order to hold them to the same standards as other organisations," said Dr Koonin.

He also claimed that the amendments indicate Australia's democracy is "maturing" and that attitudes are changing towards LGBTI people.

The NSW GLRL has been leading the struggle for equality and social justice for Australia's LGBTI community since 1988. Their campaigns have led to a number of legislative reforms over the years.

Another of NSW GLRL's co-convenors, Lainie Arnold, added that the removal of religious exemptions would play a "critical role" in making sure older LGBTI people can "age with the dignity and respect that all human beings are entitled to".

Mr Arnold revealed that the amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 represent the culmination of many years of work on the part of the NSW GLRL.

This organisation has been lobbying for "comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for LGBTI people in Commonwealth law" for more than a decade.

The bill will also provide better protection against discrimination for same-sex de facto couples.

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