The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 was introduced into the lower house of Federal Parliament on 21 March 2013. The bill contains measures to extend the protection from discrimination to the new grounds of sexual orientation gender identity, and intersex status.
The Bill also extends the existing ground of ‘marital status’ to ‘marital or relationship status’ to provide protection from discrimination for same-sex de facto couples. These amendments give effect to the Government’s commitment to introduce new protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 is the most appropriate vehicle of the existing Commonwealth anti-discrimination Acts to introduce these new protections.
A separate ground of discrimination on the basis of intersex status is also introduced. People who are intersex may face many of the same issues that are sought to be addressed through the introduction of the ground of gender identity. However, including the separate ground of intersex status recognises that whether a person is intersex is a biological characteristic and not an identity.
The Bill also extends the existing ground of ‘marital status’ to ‘marital or relationship status’ to provide protection from discrimination for same-sex de facto couples, who are currently excluded from the definition of ‘marital status’.
In particular, the Bill makes the following amendments:
inserts definitions for ‘sexual orientation’, ‘gender identity’ and ‘intersex status’, replace the definition for ‘marital status’ with ‘marital or relationship status’, and makes related changes to other definitions
provides that discrimination on these new grounds is unlawful in the same circumstances as for other grounds already covered by the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (CTH)
amends existing exemptions as appropriate to include the new grounds, and introduces three new exemptions, for conduct in compliance with the Marriage Act 1961, for conduct in compliance with prescribed Commonwealth, State or Territory laws, and for requests for information and keeping of records in relation to sex and/or gender, and
extends the functions of the Australian Human Rights Commission to include the new grounds.
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