LGBTIQ+ groups welcome landmark discrimination report, call on Queensland Government to urgently remove “don’t ask, don’t tell” provisions
1 September 2022 – National and Queensland LGBTIQ+ groups have today welcomed a landmark Queensland Human Rights Commission report into the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, and called on the Queensland Government to implement all its recommendations so that every Queenslander, including LGBTIQ+ Queenslanders employed in religious schools, are properly protected from discrimination.
“Every person deserves to live with dignity and respect, no matter who they are, whom they love or the sex characteristics they were born with”, said Ghassan Kassisieh, Legal Director, Equality Australia.
“Even today, LGBTQ+ teachers in religious schools in Queensland may be forced to hide their sexuality or gender identity in order to keep their jobs. In delivering this landmark report, the Queensland Human Rights Commission has outlined a clear blueprint to the Queensland Government for fixing these outdated ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ provisions.”
The Queensland Human Rights Commission’s report adopts key recommendations from Equality Australia’s submission, which drew on recent examples such as Citipointe Christian School to argue for removing legal loopholes that currently allow religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ+ staff and the people who affirm them.
Among the report recommendations are:
- Ensuring all LGBTIQ+ people are protected from discrimination under new inclusive attributes of ‘sexual orientation’, ‘gender identity’ and ‘sex characteristics’.
- Removing section 25(2)-(8) that currently enables religious schools to require their employees to hide their sexuality or gender identity, or only express anti-LGBTIQ+ views, as a condition of their employment.
- Modernising the overall discrimination framework to make it accessible, responsive and prevent discrimination before it occurs. Among the recommendations are better definitions of discrimination, shifting the onus to a respondent once a prima facie case of discrimination is made out, and introducing positive duties to prevent discrimination.
Matilda Alexander, patron of the LGBTI Legal Service, said: “We have lived for too long with outdated laws that discriminate and harm those of us that need protection from prejudice. We welcome these recommendations that will make Queensland a more fair and safe place. This report provides a clear pathway for the government to modernise these important laws.”
A spokesperson for Rainbow Families Queensland said: “Rainbow Families Queensland welcome recommendations that seek to ensure a safer, more welcoming and open environment for our families and children in faith-based schools. We also support strengthening the legal framework to ensure discrimination is addressed in a more proactive way before it happens. Allowing organisations to bring complaints on behalf of affected communities is also a great way to address systemic discrimination.”
Morgan Carpenter, Executive Director of Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA), and the author of IHRA’s submission said: “Legislation in Queensland currently provides no useful protections for people with intersex variations, and we know that individuals are subjected to discrimination and harmful practices in healthcare settings, and other settings in the State. Our submission supported the Commission’s welcome proposals to protect people with intersex variations from discrimination on grounds of sex characteristics. We are delighted that the Commission has made positive and practical recommendations in relation to sport and genetic discrimination. Given the prevalence of harmful practices such as early sterilisations and genitoplasties on children with intersex variations, we need the Queensland government to prioritise action on this issue also.”
Jeremy Wiggins, Executive Officer of Transcend said: “As an organisation that works with trans young people and their families, we are delighted the Queensland Human Rights Commission has recommended the removal of a provision that allowed discrimination against trans people working with children and perpetuated harmful and offensive stereotypes. We also welcome the new inclusive definition of gender identity that ensures all trans and gender diverse people, including non-binary people, are protected from discrimination.”
Equality Australia Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh added that the Queensland Government should accept the recommendations and immediately implement them.
“We call on the Queensland Government to immediately begin work on bringing forward legislation to implement these recommendations which will fix Queensland’s outdated discrimination laws.”