UPR – Australian NGO Coalition Submission – domestic publication version – July 2020
Aleph Melbourne is a signatory to the sections of this report that address sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).
SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY AND EXPRESSION, AND SEX CHARACTERISTICS
Since 2016, Australia has recognised marriages between two people regardless of gender.52 States have amended laws to make it easier for legal gender to be changed,53 to allow adoption by couples regardless of gender,54 and to expunge convictions for historical homosexual offences.55 Some states may soon prevent so-called ‘conversion’ practices which seek to eliminate or suppress the affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities.56
Despite such reforms (and sometimes accompanying them57), discrimination, harassment and violence on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and bodily variations in sex characteristics, remain prevalent.58
Within 18 months, Australia must:
- advance reforms in remaining states which impose unjust hurdles (including requirements for surgery) on people seeking official identity documents reflecting their gender;59
- implement recommendations on ending harmful practices (including forced and coercive medical interventions) to ensure the bodily integrity of children with intersex variations;60
- ensure access to redress, independent affirmative peer support and psychosocial support for people with intersex variations and their families;61
- capture SOGIESC data62 in its 2021 national census and other significant collections to provide a robust evidence-base for future public policy and government interventions; and
- implement effective measures to reduce SOGIESC-based bullying, harassment and violence, particularly targeted at youth.63
EQUALITY AND NON-DISCRIMINATION
Australia protects against discrimination through multiple inconsistent and overly technical anti-discrimination legislation. Australia’s piecemeal approach does not provide remedies for intersectional discrimination, and creates significant exceptions and barriers to individuals bringing complaints.
Australia must enact a comprehensive Equality Act that addresses all prohibited grounds of discrimination, promotes substantive equality and provides effective remedies, including against systemic and intersectional discrimination.
Religious discrimination is not currently addressed by standalone federal discrimination law. In 2019 the federal government released a draft Religious Discrimination Bill. The proposed Bill goes far beyond protecting against religious discrimination and provides people and faith-based institutions with a licence to discriminate on religious grounds, including when delivering healthcare. The Bill privileges religious views over patient health needs, and removes existing anti-discrimination protections, including for women, people with disabilities, SOGIESC, and people from minority faiths.
Australia must not enact the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill.