JUST.EQUAL WELCOMES W.A. REFORMS: CALLS TO GO FURTHER
PROPOSAL GIVEN 7 OUT OF 10, NOT GOLD STANDARD
Just.Equal will be pushing for stronger amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act than the WA Law Reform Commission recommended. In particular:
- Ensuring all faith-based organisations are prohibited from discriminating against LGBTIQA+ people, and not just those that are government-funded or commercial
- Ensuring all derogatory conduct is prohibited, including humiliating, intimidating, ridiculing and insulting conduct, not just vilification
Lobby group Just.Equal Australia has applauded the recommendations from the WA Law Reform Commission (WALRC) to update the Equal Opportunity Act, giving it ‘7 out 10.’
WA spokesperson, Brian Greig said says the proposals are not “gold standard” but could be with modifications.
Attorney General John Quigley agreed to call on the WALRC to review the state’s Equal Opportunity Act following a meeting with veteran LGBTI advocates Maxine Drake and Brian Greig in 2016, who urged law reform on a range of fronts.
With that report now tabled, Mr Greig has written to the Attorney General to push for an upgrade to its recommendations.
“Overall the report is very positive. In some ways the recommendations are better than the Victorian legislation introduced last year, but in other ways they fall short of Tasmania’s anti-discrimination benchmarks set in 1998.
Greig welcomed the inclusion of gender identity and sex characteristics as protected attributes under the Anti-discrimination Act, as well as the removal of exemptions allowing faith-based organisations to discriminate against LGBTIQA+ people.
“For too long trans folk and people who are intersex have been excluded from basic anti-discrimination protections, but this brings them into the fold.
“However, this also draws attention to the urgent need to reform our highly-restrictive identity recognition laws. The WALRC has previously recommended change in this area but the government has not yet acted on it.”
Regarding religious exemptions, Mr Greig said,
“It’s very important that the Government consults with the LGBTIQA+ community during drafting of the Bill to ensure that LGBTIQA+ students and teachers are protected - no more loopholes.
“Just.Equal will also be urging the government to further limit the general religious exception in Recommendation 77, potentially to only cover discrimination on the basis of religious conviction, and not other attributes.
“The WALRC recommendation is to allow faith run services that do not receive public funds to discriminate against LGBT people in employment and services.
“Again, this is not ‘gold standard’ because this discrimination has been outlawed in Tasmania and WA should follow suit.”
Mr Greig also welcomed the proposed creation of anti-vilification laws which would include sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
“This was a particular request from Just.Equal’s submission, pointing out that WA only had anti-vilification law for race, but not other attributes.
“However, the recommendation does not go as far as the anti-bullying provisions in the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act.
“As such, the WALRC recommendation is not ‘gold standard’, because it falls short of an existing interstate law that protects against conduct that ‘humiliates, intimates, insults or ridicules’ on the basis of race, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity and disability.
“Just.Equal will continue to press for a similar provision be added in WA, lifting the bar to that set in Tasmania more than two decades ago.
Greig said that overall the recommendations looked promising but urged the McGowan Government, which has full control over the parliament, to do even better.
“It is apparent from the recommendations that the WALRC was influenced by quality submissions from Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and I thank them for their expertise.
“We should also remember that these reforms are not a substitute for others, and that separately the government needs to address other areas of concern.
“These include banning LGBT conversion practices, fixing identification processes for trans people and banning non-consensual surgery on people who are intersex.”
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here