After years of discussion and consultation, the Federal Government has all it needs to strengthen protections against unfair treatment and make anti-discrimination laws more effective, accessible and cost-efficient. Earlier today the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee released its report on the exposure draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012. The Senate Committee’s majority report includes 12 common sense recommendations that would iron out the problems with the draft Bill and improve its effectiveness and its reach.
“Australia is on the cusp of having a law capable of more effectively and efficiently addressing and eliminating unfair discrimination,” said Ms Ball the HRLC’s Director of Advocacy and Campaigns. “The Government should adopt the Senate Committee’s recommendations and pass the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 as soon as possible”.
Amongst the Committee recommendations is the removal of section 19(2)(b) which incorporated behaviour which “offends or insults” another in the definition of discrimination. “This provision gave rise to considerable confusion and concern about protection of free speech under the Bill. It is sensible and appropriate that it be removed”, said Ms Ball.
The Committee also recommends that exceptions allowing religious organisations to discriminate be narrowed and their use be made more transparent. “Religious groups, particularly those receiving public funds, should not be given a free licence to discriminate against gay and lesbian Australians, women and de facto couples,” said Ms Ball.
“The passage of this Bill will improve protections for the gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex community along with women, seniors and many others. It will also make the law easier to understand and comply with for business. It should be warmly welcomed by all Australians” Ms Ball said.
For further information or comments, contact Rachel Ball on 0434 045 919
Click here for a copy of the Committee’s report.