The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has just released a media report in response to the Galaxy Poll commissioned by the Australian Coalition for Equality (ACE).

Sexual orientation and gender identity: national poll shows support for new anti-discrimination laws

Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes, today welcomed the results of a new national poll that found Australians support the introduction of laws that would prohibit discrimination against people on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Commissioned by the Australian Coalition for Equality (ACE), the Galaxy Poll shows that 85 percent of Australians polled supported the introduction of federal anti-discrimination laws to protect people on these grounds.

“Under federal law, there is very little protection against discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity, despite protections that exist at the state and territory level,” said Commissioner Innes.

“This poll shows that Australians believe that people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex have the right to go about their daily lives, whether at work, in school, or in aged care facilities, without being targets of discrimination and harassment – and that they should have the assurance of being protected from this prejudice wherever it occurs.”

Mr Innes said the ACE poll made it clear that Australians consider discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation and sex or gender identity to be unacceptable.

During the 2007 Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry consultations, the Australian Human Rights Commission heard from many people about their experiences of discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In its Inquiry report, the Commission recommended the introduction of federal laws to protect against discrimination in employment on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The Commission has also raised concerns about the existing gaps in federal discrimination laws in its recent submission to the National Human Rights Consultation. It recommended, in addition to a Human Rights Act, that there should be an inquiry into how best to strengthen, simplify and streamline federal anti-discrimination laws.

“The National Human Rights Consultation provides the perfect opportunity to address the gaps in our anti-discrimination laws,” said Commissioner Innes. “The lack of protection for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex is one of the most obvious holes at the federal level.”

Mr Innes said that the result of the poll was a significant finding on the attitudes of Australians and encouraged the Australian government to take note of it.

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529

Other responses to the poll: