Update on proposed Anti Discrimination Bill

Posted on 30 April 2013

On 4 March 2013, we published a blog highlighting the key impact the proposed Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Bill would have on business and industry if it were to be passed by Parliament into new law. Our blog also noted that it was unknown whether the new Attorney-General, Mr Mark Dreyfus, would support the Bill. Previous comments by the Attorney-General in January 2013 indicated he was unsure whether he would endorse the Bill.

On 21 March 2013, the Attorney-General formally acknowledged that he would not endorse the Bill in its current form. The Government agreed with the recommendations set out in the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee's report on the draft Bill which advised Government that there remain several policy, definitional and technical amendments that require deeper consideration in the process of consolidating five bodies of anti-discrimination law into one. Instead of endorsing the hurriedly drafted Bill, the Attorney-General decided to refocus his Department's energy and create further amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 was introduced into Parliament to insert new protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status, and extend the ground of marital status to marital or relationship status to provide protection from discrimination for same-sex de facto couples. These amendments support the government's commitment to introduce new protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

While the Attorney-General's Department continues to work on the Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Bill, the new amendments will provide important, long overdue protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. However, it remains highly unlikely that the Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Bill will be redrafted and introduced to Parliament before the election on 14 September 2013.

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