The Greens show their support for transgender and intersex protections

Equality advocates have welcomed Greens support for amending existing workplace discrimination laws to provide equal protection for trans, gender diverse and intersex Australians, but are unhappy neither major party has endorsed the reform.

This week, the Senate inquiry into the Government’s [email protected] package handed down its report. LGBTIQA+ rights group just.equal say it’s disapointing that both major parties ignored their recommendations, alongside those from the Australian Discrimination Law Experts Group and the Diversity Council of Australia that advocated for trans, gender diverse and intersex Australians having equal protections under the Fair Work Act.

Advocates say they will now liaise with the Greens to introduce relevant amendments to the Fair Work Act that will add gender identity and variations of sex characteristics to the list of protected attributes already covered in the Act including race, sex and sexual orientation.

just.equal Australia spokesperson, Dr Charlie Burton, said it was a disappointing development.

“We welcome Green support for our recommendations and are deeply disappointed that both major parties have ignored them.”

“This is a simple reform that would replicate existing protections in other discrimination laws, and that would ensure trans, gender diverse and intersex workers have the same sense of employment security as other workers.”

“We will now seek to work with the Greens to ensure necessary amendments are introduced.”

Both Dr Burton and Intersex Human Rights Australia senior project officer, Cody Smith, pointed to much higher rates of workplace bias against trans, gender diverse and intersex Australians.

Dr Burton noted studies showing 30% of trans and gender diverse people have faced workplace discrimination while up to 40% are unemployed.

Cody Smith said statistics clearly supported the need for greater protections.

“Statistics show that 41% of intersex people exist in the lowest income bracket. Intersex people can face workplace discrimination based on social stigma, and can be cut off from workplace adjustments that entitle disabled workers to additional medical leave. ”

“Additionally, the parents of intersex children may need extra supports at work. It is vital that intersex people are acknowledged and protected in the workplace.”

The [email protected] package is the Government’s response to the Human Rights Commission’s national inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.

ACTU say the government has rejected the opportunity to improve people’s lives

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is another group that expressed disappointment in the government’s response to the report.

The ACTU along with a wide range of organisations and the Sex Discrimination Commissioner herself, pressed the Senate Inquiry to adopt all legislative measures recommended by [email protected] which are supported by the Greens and Labor party but ignored by the Coalition.

ACTU President Michele O’Neil said the government should have accepted all of the reports recommendations.

“Only 17 per cent of those sexually harassed at work report it, for reasons including fear of losing work and backlash from the perpetrator. It is critical that more preventative measures are taken, and the Morrison Government must amend the Sex Discrimination Act to include a positive duty on employers.

[email protected] is a clear and compelling plan to make women safer at work; for employers to take positive steps to stamp out harassment, and for women to get justice if they are harassed. The Morrison Government must rethink their decision today.

“Violence and harassment of women at work is a national crisis. There must be political unity and all sides of politics must come together to ensure women are safe and respected at work.” O’Neill said.

“The Morrison Government must finally listen to Australian women and abandon its opposition to family and domestic violence leave. The introduction of 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave is critical to protecting Australian women from violence and harassment, so that working women can escape an abuse relationship without fearing loss of employment and critical income.”

The bill is due to be debated in parliament this coming week.

OIP Staff

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