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Major parties reject trans and intersex workplace protections

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

The Senate inquiry into the government’s Respect@Work package has handed down its report, with both major parties “ignoring” expert input.

Just.equal Australia, the Australian Discrimination Law Experts Group, and the Diversity Council of Australia had all recommended for trans, gender diverse, and intersex Australians to receive 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 to 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.

“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,” said just.equal spokesperson Dr Charlie Burton.

“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 that 30% of trans and gender diverse people have faced workplace discrimination, while up to 40% are unemployed.

“Statistics show that 41% of intersex people exist in the lowest income bracket,” said Smith.

“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 Respect@Work package is the government’s response to the Human Rights Commission’s national inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.

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