Urgent reform needed to achieve equality before the law and government

HRC_Tim Wilson_editorialLesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Australia continue to face unjust state-sanctioned discrimination, unacceptable levels of violence, harassment and bullying and a lack of visibility of the issues that directly affect them in accessing essential services, according to a new report released today by Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson.

Resilient Individuals: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Rights National Consultation Report was officially launched On Wednesday 10 June by Attorney-General Senator the Hon George Brandis.

The report recommends urgent law reform at all levels of government, and outlines new initiatives of the Australian Human Rights Commission on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex (SOGII) rights.

“This report followed an extensive consultation across Australia looking at the issues faced by Australians based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. While marriage equality has been a prevailing focus of the national discussion about LGBTI rights, there are many other systemic issues and human rights challenges that urgently need to be addressed,” said Commissioner Tim Wilson.

“In our survey of more than 1500 people, almost 75% of respondents reported experiencing some type of bullying, harassment or violence on the bases of their gender identity or sexual orientation; and almost 90% reported knowing someone who had experienced bullying, harassment or violence.

“Reducing the unacceptably high rates of violence against LGBTI people is critical. To inform our work in this area, the Commission will undertake a scoping project and data analysis of violence rates. Going forward, the Australian Human Rights Commission will focus its work on addressing issues around violence against LGBTI Australians, ensuring essential public services meet the needs of LGTBI Australians and continue its existing work to make sports more inclusive.”

The report also makes a number of recommendations for law reform at the state and territory level, notably addressing the inconsistency in State-based anti-discrimination laws. At a federal level it recommends amendment of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) to equally recognise the partnership of two adult persons regardless of gender; and for alternative options to be identified to enable children under the age of 18 to access hormone treatment, rather than requiring a Family Court Order.

Senator Brandis said the report highlighted that LGBTI people, and in particular young people, continue to face violence and harassment based on their sexual orientation.

“That is one of many of the areas that still need urgently to be addressed by our governments at state and federal levels,” said Senator Brandis.

For more information or to read the report, visit: www.humanrights.gov.au for details.

Image: Commissioner Tim Wilson – photo courtesy of Australian Human Rights Commission