WA updates anti-discrimination laws for women, LGBTIQA+ communities

The move was lauded by the ALHR, which also urged the implementation of a Human Rights Act

WA updates anti-discrimination laws for women, LGBTIQA+ communities

WA Attorney-General John Quigley has announced reforms to the state’s anti-discrimination legislation to improve legal protection for women and LGBTIQA+ communities.

The majority of recommendations presented by the WA Law Reform Commission following a review of the state’s Equal Opportunity Act 1984 has been incorporated into the amended laws. The announcement was celebrated by Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR),

“West Australian anti-discrimination laws have lagged behind other states and territories in the scope and circumstances in which they offer protection. These long-awaited reforms will update the protections afforded to women and LGBTIQA+ people and help to ensure the state’s anti-discrimination laws reflect community expectations, are effective and are afforded to diverse and vulnerable populations,” said Nicholas Stewart, ALHR vice president and co-chair of LGBTIQA+ rights.

Most Read

He highlighted a crucial change that would better support sexual harassment victims – the elimination of the “significant disadvantage” test, which he said has been a roadblock for complainants.

“Other reforms will give greater protections to LGBTIQA+ communities, such as amendments to limit the carve-out exemptions for religious schools’ ability to discriminate against trans, non-binary and gender diverse staff and students. Discrimination on the grounds of a person’s sexuality, gender identity and sex characteristics, must be unlawful,” Stewart explained.

He also pointed to the WA Law Reform Commission’s suggestion that a separate protected attribute of “variations of sex characteristics” be established.

“This very important amendment would recognise a poorly understood, all too often marginalised population by properly distinguishing issues of sex and gender. It is hoped this will contribute to a better understanding of the particular needs and experiences of the intersex community,” Stewart said.

In addition to improving legal protections for LGBTIQA+ communities and women, he noted that the amendments “represent welcome progress in ensuring that anti-discrimination laws meet Australia’s international human rights obligations.” Nonetheless, Stewart continues to call for the implementation of a WA Human Rights Act.

“Unlike Queensland, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia is yet to introduce a Human Rights Act to create a framework that ensures everyone’s human rights are at the centre of government decision-making,” he said. “ALHR therefore calls on Attorney-General Quigley to further strengthen and consolidate human rights protections in Western Australia by accompanying reforms to the Equal Opportunity Act with the introduction of a WA Human Rights Act.”

Recent articles & video

US law school deans commit to training advocates for democracy

Afghanistan Independent Bar Association in Exile joins International Bar Association Council

UK study reveals challenges faced by bereaved families at inquests

HWL Ebsworth unveils board of partners

Seven ascend to Hall & Wilcox partnership in huge promotions round

W+K makes Asia debut with Singapore office

Most Read Articles

NSW justice system welcomes new judges

New chair takes the lead at Barry Nilsson

HWL Ebsworth partner makes the switch to McCullough Robertson

Ashurst boosts Perth office with strategic partner hires