80 Organisations call to remove legal discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people

“All young people in NSW regardless of their sexuality, gender or body deserve this."

Welfare, health, family, faith and women’s groups have joined forces with LGBTIQ+ groups to call on the state government to back the NSW Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTIQA+) Bill 2023 and remove legal discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people. 

The Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTIQA+) Bill 2023 introduced by Independent MP Alex Greenwich and suggests making changes to 20 pieces of NSW legislation.

Signed by 80 organisations, the letter to NSW Premier Chris Minns includes the Australian Services Union, NCOSS, Women’s Health NSW, Women’s Electoral Lobby, Pitt Street Uniting Church, the Black Dog Institute and Rainbow Families.  

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The letter states:

“NSW has some of the worst laws in the country for LGBTIQ+ people. We ask you to change our laws to make sure that all people and families are equal in NSW.”  

The submission focused on two priority areas: broad reform of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) and amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995 (NSW).

Image: Anna Brown, CEO of national LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia (Source: Equality Australia)

Anna Brown, CEO of national LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia, pointed out that an incredibly broad and diverse range of organisations from right across the social and political spectrum support these reforms. 

“Discrimination has no place in the modern state of NSW. Equality and a fair go for all is not too much for NSW citizens to ask of their government, and it’s time for us to catch-up with the rest of Australia on these long overdue reforms.” 

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill observed that she believes the Bill provides excellent environmental conditions, and protective factors, to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQA+ people in NSW.    

“ACON recommends passing the Equality Bill in full. The reforms follow best practice in other Australian jurisdictions and are an unprecedented opportunity to create a more inclusive, respectful, and safe society for our communities to live.”  

Jozefa Sobski, National Convener Women’s Electoral Lobby, added that their group has long been concerned about the exemptions from the Anti- Discrimination Act that allow religious schools and institutions such as public hospitals run by religious charities, to discriminate against women and LGBTQI + people more generally. 

“We are delighted the Bill provides for the removal of blanket exemptions that currently allow private schools to discriminate against a person based on marital or domestic status, carers responsibilities, transgender status, disability, sexuality and other attributes.”

Sobski further pointed out that the Bill better protects aged care workers, nurses and teachers, introduces new grounds for the making of AVOs and APVOs to better protect people from all forms of domestic violence, better recognises families created through surrogacy in the best interests of children, ensures trans and gender diverse women can access ID that matches their identity and addresses unnecessarily gendered terms in NSW laws.

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The bill supports reforms to recognise sex or gender markers beyond male or female, so that non-binary and gender diverse people have access to accurate identity documentation.

Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre Alastair Lawrie said that NSW is the only place in Australia where trans and gender diverse people must undergo genital surgery before they can access birth certificates reflecting who they are. The Equality Bill proposes a straight-forward application process in line with other jurisdictions. 

 “The Equality Bill will remove the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act’s broad exceptions that allow ‘private educational authorities’ to discriminate. We urge Parliament to support it, to allow young people to learn without the fear of discrimination, and to ensure teachers are employed because of their skills and experience, not their sexual orientation or gender identity.” 

 Ashley Scott Executive Officer Rainbow Families said that the ban on overseas commercial surrogacy has been ineffective with no prosecutions taking place in NSW since the commencement of the Surrogacy Act in 2010. 

“Rather, the effect of the ban has been damaging, resulting in children born through overseas commercial surrogacy being deprived of the security and certainty of legal parentage.”

Transcend Australia CEO Jeremy Wiggins added that Trans young people living in NSW “deserve every opportunity to live and dream of healthier and stronger futures, but this can only be achieved with equal protections under the law.” 

 Reverend Dr Josephine Inkpin, Pitt Street Uniting Church observed: “The Equality Bill is consistent with Christian teaching that each person is created by God and deserving of dignity and respect. Many of the measures, especially for trans people and intersex people, are long overdue.” 

Jain Moralee CEO Twenty 10 said:

“All young people in NSW regardless of their sexuality, gender or body deserve this. “ 

Image: Rt Rev Michael Stead, the Bishop of South Sydney and chairman of Freedom for Faith (Source: Sydney Anglicans)

Rt Rev Michael Stead, the Bishop of South Sydney and chairman of Freedom for Faith, writing in Sydney Anglicans pointed out that “Mr Greenwich’s bill is extreme and prioritises the interests of one group over all other parts of society.”

He added that a “more balanced approach needs to be taken, with wide consultation” as the legislation is 50 pages long and makes more than 80 changes to 20 different pieces of legislation. This includes 52 amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act – even though the Act has been referred to the NSW Law Reform Commission.

Rt Rev Stead further observed:

“There is no safe way of splitting this bill, or passing parts of it, without risking significant unintended consequences, because the legislation is complicated and interlinked. The different issues are interwoven, with consequential amendment.”

Hearings begin on Tuesday for a Parliamentary Committee into Independent MP Alex Greenwich’s Equality Bill, which will close carve-outs that allow religious schools and organisations to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, better protect people from violence and recognise more rainbow families.  

NSW is also one of the last remaining states where trans and gender diverse people face cruel and unnecessary barriers, including the only place to require surgery on reproductive organs, in order to access ID documents that recognise them for who they are. 

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