Dr John Byrne, Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins and Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Ro Allen
The theme of the event was a Party with purpose, an apt theme as it connotes a celebration of how far human rights in the LGBTQIA+ space have come, but also that there is still a lot of work to do.
Here in Western Australia, we can celebrate that compared to some overseas jurisdictions we have an equal opportunity legislation that covers the grounds of sexual orientation and gender history; however, we still have a long way to go to keep up with LGBTQIA+ discrimination laws in our own country!
Our current legislation, particularly regarding trans people, is behind most western countries and even other states in Australia.
The Western Australian Law Reform Commission in its recent review of our Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (the Act), recommended the term gender identity be used instead of gender history and not include a requirement for the complainant to hold a gender recognition certificate to access the Act.
The Law Reform Commission also made recommendations to provide protection for broader recognition of sexual orientation.
Recommendation 54 stated sexual orientation should be defined as a person’s emotional, affectional, and sexual attraction to, or intimate or sexual relations with persons of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender.
Recommendation 54 said it should be made clear it included people who feel attraction towards all persons irrespective of their gender and people who experience no sexual attraction to any persons.
Broader recommendations were also made about harassment and vilification where anti-vilification provisions be applied to all areas of public life covered by the Act and that anti-vilification provisions cover the grounds of disability, gender identity, sex, sex characteristics, race, religious conviction, and sexual orientation.
Including these recommendations in an updated Equal Opportunity Act for Western Australia will bring the state in line with other jurisdictions around the world, but more importantly within our own country.
Western Australians deserve to have the same or similar standard of protection against discrimination and harassment as those in the eastern states so that we can truly celebrate WorldPride together.