15 February 2013
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
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A HEARTY mazal tov on the appointment of Mark Dreyfus as federal Attorney-General.
I am heartened by his solid support for removing discrimination in the federal Marriage Act introduced under the Howard government in 2004, which purposefully prevents same-sex couples and intersex people from obtaining a civil marriage.
It is also reassuring that Dreyfus backs the inclusion of protections under proposed federal anti-discrimination legislation on the grounds of gender identity and sexuality.
These changes will greatly benefit the Jewish community by ensuring our families and children are better protected, less susceptible to discriminatory practices and able to celebrate loving, committed relationships on par with the rest of society.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry submitted a response to the Senate Committee inquiry on the Exposure Draft of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.
All submissions to this Senate inquiry are online here. The submission by the ECAJ is available on the Senate site (#242) and the ECAJ site.
The following paragraph on page 6 of the submission (emphasis added) is of particular relevance:
Whilst there are good, evidence-based policy reasons to have legislation in place which prohibits conduct that offends, insults, humiliates or intimidates others because of other attributes, especially sexual orientation and gender identity, we believe that this should take the form of anti-vilification, not anti-discrimination, legislation and such legislation should include the same objective element as applies when the protected attribute is race. If, as we believe is the case, the Commonwealth lacks the constitutional power to enact anti-vilification legislation to protect attributes other than race, then it should be left to the States and Territories to do so, and the focus of government should be to achieve uniformity in such legislation across Australia.