OII Australia is relieved and excited at the passing of the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013, without a vote at 8:30pm, AEST.
For the first time in Australia, and for the first time internationally, intersex people are recognised fully and authentically in anti-discrimination legislation.
Intersex people are born with physical differences of sex anatomy, so that biological sex cannot neatly be classified as clearly male or female. Intersex people in Australia can identify our gender as male, female or X.
The Act includes:
- New attributes protecting people on grounds of intersex status, and gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Protection for all intersex people, independent of characteristics such as sex, sexual orientation or gender identities.
- Recognition that intersex has a biological basis.
- The intention of no substantive religious exemptions applicable to intersex.
- The intention that sport exemptions will not be applied as a blanket rule, but include case by case assessment. We commented in our submission to the Senate Inquiry on the Sex Discrimination Amendment that more than 1 in 400 women Olympic athletes are intersex, and sports exemptions should not be used to eliminate us from competition in Australia.
- The removal of religious exemptions on gender identity and sexual orientation grounds from aged care – something of great value to intersex people who identify as LGBT or queer.
Morgan Carpenter (OII Australia secretary) said:
Intersex people face discrimination in access to healthcare, employment, schooling and even in interpersonal relationships. Intersex men and women face disbelief in the reality of our gender identities, and those of us who are physically most different are often the most vulnerable.
In February, the Senate agreed with us that intersex is a biological reality, and that all of us should be protected, and without religious exemptions. This is now law, and a huge step forward that will have many positive repercussions.
Tony Briffa (OII Australia and AISSGA board member) said:
I am elated and encouraged the Australian Parliament has seen fit to adopt legislation that not only recognises intersex people, but that also helps to protect us from being discriminated against because of the way we were born.
This is a significant moment for intersex people around the world, and I hope other countries will follow suit.
Gina Wilson (OII Australia president) said:
The legislation comes after a strenuous and exhausting process of educating and lobbying. We acknowledge with great thanks all of those who helped, particularly our LGBT allies, who went to the trouble of understanding and including intersex in their own efforts to bring about this historic legislative change.
In acknowledging this, we note that intersex organisations were the only completely unfunded group who had to argue for our place in this law.
Though this legislation is fundamental to intersex rights there still remains significant work to do for intersex activists. And we need funding and support to do this.
Intersex people remain the subjects of non-consensual surgeries and treatments to modify our appearance, often for reasons like our future marriageability and employment prospects. OII Australia and the AISSGA call for an end to all appearance-related infant genital surgeries. We ask other organisations to join us in this call. We also look forward to the report of a Senate Inquiry into the involuntary and coerced sterilisation of intersex people that will report at the end of September.
- ComLaw: Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013, No. 98, 2013. C2013A00098 ComLaw provides the definitive version of the Act.
- ComLaw: The consolidated Sex Discrimination Act 1984, including (as of writing on 7 Nov 2013) amendments up to and including this Amendment Act.
- Australian Parliament page on the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 including the Act, text of the bill, explanatory memoranda and speeches.
Reports and submissions that contributed to the legislative process
- Senate Inquiry report 14 June 2013 (Parliament website) – OII Australia is named in the report.
- Article: House of Representatives passes Sex Discrimination Amendment
- House of Representatives report May 2013 (Parliament website) – OII Australia is named in the report.
- Article: Government tables Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 with link to Senate Inquiry terms of reference and submissions. 21 March 2013.
- Article: We welcome the Senate Inquiry report on the Exposure Draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012. The Senate Inquiry report contains crucial analysis that led to the inclusion of “intersex status” in the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013; OII Australia is cited in the report. 21 February 2013.
- Joint statement on the report by Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, OII Australia, and TransGender Victoria welcoming the Senate Inquiry report on the Exposure Draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, 21 February 2013.
- Article: Our presentation to the Senate Inquiry, including details of our references and the report we formally tabled 25 January 2013.
- Article: Summary of the OII Australia submission on the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill. This submission set out the case for inclusion of “intersex status” (not included in the Exposure Draft Bill). 10 December 2012.
- First thoughts on the federal anti-discrimination proposals. 27 November 2012.
Related issues for intersex people in Australia
- Article [update]: Our submissions to the Senate Inquiry on involuntary sterilisation. 12 September 2013.
- Article: Our joint call for an end to all appearance-related infant genital surgeries with AISSGA, 22 June 2013.