Petition urges further protections in overhaul of Equal Opportunity Act

Local LGBTQIA+ advocacy group Rainbow Futures WA have welcomed the news that the McGowan Government will be overhauling the state’s Equal Opportunity Act, but say more can be done to bring us in line with the east coast on LGBTQIA+ protections.

In 2019, the Attorney General John Quigley asked the LRCWA to provide advice and recommendations to Government on possible amendments to enhance and update the Act.

The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (LRCWA) released their final report in August, making 163 recommendations to make the State’s anti-discrimination laws fair and effective.

The Government has broadly accepted the recommendations with further consideration to be given to the extent they will be implemented, however several key reforms are expected to be included in the Bill including:

  • removing the outdated “disadvantage test” for sexual harassment complainants, in line with the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee’s report into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry – “Enough is Enough”;
  • strengthening equal opportunity protections for LGBTIQA+ staff and students in religious schools;
  • providing anti-discrimination protections to those who are trans, gender-diverse or non-binary without the need for recognition from the Gender Reassignment Board;
  • extending the prohibition against sexual and racial harassment to members of Parliament and Parliament staff, judicial officers and court staff, local government councillors and staff, and unpaid or volunteer workers;
  • protecting family and domestic violence victims from discrimination;
  • introducing anti-vilification laws; and
  • strengthening victimisation provisions.

Rainbow Futures WA are calling for further protections by petition, which outlines concerns that the rights of LGBTIQA+ Western Australians have fallen behind the rights of LGBTIQA+ people in other Australian states.

Misty Farquhar of Rainbow Futures WA says there is much more to be done to secure full equality for our community.

“The petition we’ve launched aims to hold the Government to account to legislate the new EO Act in a timely fashion, and also to legislate to fix other key areas of concern,” Farquhar says.

The petition calls on the Legislative Council to amend current laws to also completely abolish the Gender Reassignment Board, outlaw unnecessary medical interventions on intersex babies and children, implement comprehensive protections against conversion practices in line with the SOGICE Survivor Statement, address surrogacy laws that exclude men and non-binary people, and consult with the LGBTQIA+ community on implementing recommendations.

“Rainbow Futures believes an injury to one is an injury to all,” Farquhar continues.

“That is why we welcome the Equal Opportunity Act re-write but call for these further changes so no LGBTQIA+ West Australian is left behind.”

You can view the full petition here.

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