Adocates lobby for Trans & Intersex workplace protection


workplace protection

National advocacy group Just-Equal has written to national leaders urging stronger workplace protection for transgender, gender diverse and intersex Australians.

Spokesperson for Just-Equal, Brian Greig, said the group wrote to the federal minister to urge reform.

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“The Fair Work Act must explicitly and equally protect trans, gender diverse and intersex Australians from workplace discrimination.

“At a time when trans and gender diverse Australians face an upsurge in prejudice and discrimination, it is vital they enjoy the same legal protections as other Australians.

“The current discussion about industrial relations between the Government, businesses and unions is an ideal time to raise this.”

Charlie Burton

Trans advocate and Equality Tasmania board member, Charlie Burton, explained the problem in detail:

“Anti-discrimination protections under the Fair Work Act are inadequate.

“They do not ensure trans, gender diverse and intersex employees can seek redress with claims of adverse action and unlawful termination.”

“The Fair Work Act is clear in that it protects people on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. However, it does not include gender identity or sex characteristics.”

Fair Work Commission

Some advocates believe the Fair Work Commission might interpret ‘sex’ to include trans, gender diverse and intersex people. Despite that, such an interpretation remains open to challenge because it is not a defined attribute under current definitions in the legislation.

Dr Burton said the Sex Discrimination Act does cover those attributes.

“The Australian Human Rights Commission can take much longer to conciliate, however.

“Also, enforcing outcomes may require action in the Federal Court at the risk of significant costs orders to the complainant.

“Trans folk should be allowed to access arbitration by the Fair Work Commission which would be quicker and usually a ‘no costs’ jurisdiction.

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“Women, lesbians, gay men and bisexual people have this choice. However, it is denied to trans, gender diverse and intersex citizens.

“The simple reform we seek will remove the current uncertainty. It will also allow parties to choose an expedited, low-cost resolution if it suits them.”

Just-Equal also sent identical letters regarding workplace protection to the Shadow Industrial Relations Minister, Tony Burke, and the head of the ACTU, Sally McManus.


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