Morrison Government votes down transgender workplace protections

Hopes of adding protections for transgender, non-binary and intersex people to Australia’s workplace protection laws have come crashing down as the government used its numbers to stop any changes going through the parliament.

The senate was considering the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill that aims to bring in some of the recommendations included within the [email protected] Report delivered by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins earlier this year.

The Greens senator Janet Rice had put forward amendments that would have given trans, gender diverse and intersex people the same workplace protections other Australians enjoy. Labor supported the Greens’ amendment but it was voted down by the Government.

just.equal Australia spokesperson, Dr Charlie Burton, said people should be angry that the government had voted to allow discrimination to continue.

“This was a simple, straightforward amendment that would have brought consistency to federal law and would have brought greater job security to trans, gender diverse and intersex Australians.”

“Survey after survey shows trans, gender diverse and intersex people suffer higher rates of unemployment and lower incomes than other Australians.”

“Surveys also show that transgender Australians experience greater workplace discrimination than gay and lesbian Australians who are already protected, making the former’s protection under the Fair Work Act even more urgent.” Dr Burton said.

“It beggars belief that the Government would be so hard-hearted as to vote this amendment down.”

“just.equal Australia will continue to work with trans and intersex community partners to ensure this simple and long-overdue reform finally occurs.”

Earlier, Labor voted down a Green amendment that would have protected workers from discrimination on the ground of sex characteristics rather than intersex status. The former term covers a much broader group of Australians and is preferred by intersex community leaders.

Dr Burton said politicians needed to listen to the people the laws were affecting.

“It is important that law reform is driven by the community, and not handed down from above by party bosses. We will continue to lobby Labor to listen to what intersex advocates are calling for.”

Earlier in the debate Liberal senator Andrew Bragg had voiced support for disclination against transgender and intersex people to be addressed.

“We want every Australian to have an equal crack at work and be safe at work to provide that economic participation. It shouldn’t matter who you are. If there are minority groups that feel that they are in need of additional protections, I think that those should be seriously considered, because it is very important that countries like Australia go out of their way to protect minorities. Minorities are not there to be bashed up; minorities are there to be protected.” Senator Bragg said.

Attorney General Michaelia Cash spoke about the suggestions for protections for transgender, and intersex people in the FairWork Act, saying it had not been amongst the recommendations in the report from Commissioner Jenkins.

“In respect of including gender identity and sex characteristics as protected attributes under the Fair Work Act, I note that this was not recommended in the [email protected] report and would require further consideration. I note that the Fair Work Act already provides protections against unlawful termination and adverse action on certain discriminatory grounds, and the Sex Discrimination Act already provides protections against discrimination on other grounds of gender identity and intersex status.” Senator Cash said.

OIP Staff


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