Wednesday, 07 December 2016

A disappointing step backwards for equality in Victoria

The Commission is disappointed by the blockage of two key Bills in the Victorian Parliament that would have worked to reduce discrimination in this state.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton said, as the agency responsible for promoting and protecting human rights in Victoria, the Commission sees the harmful effects that discrimination and inequality have on people every day.

"We recognise that discrimination in all its forms is harmful to individual people, their friends and families and to our whole community," Ms Hilton said.

The blockage of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 and the Equal Opportunity Amendment (Religious Exceptions) Bill 2016 sends the wrong message to those most vulnerable in our community.

The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 would have removed the need for applicants to have undergone sex affirmation surgery or apply for a divorce before being able to apply for a new birth certificate.

This was an important step toward removing barriers for trans, gender diverse and intersex Victorians seeking new birth certificates.

The Commission is also disappointed by the blockage of the Equal Opportunity Amendment (Religious Exceptions) Bill 2016, a bill that would have achieved a fair balance between the right to religious freedom and the right to be free from discrimination.

The blockage of this bill will mean that religious bodies and schools can continue to discriminate against Victorian workers because of their sexual orientation, sex, religious beliefs or activity, marital or parental status, gender identity or lawful sexual activity.

"As long as inequalities remain in our laws, we increase the potential for discrimination and prejudice that can damage the physical and mental wellbeing of LGBTI people, their children and extended families."

Media contact

Adam Pulford
Mobile: 0459 114 657
Email: adam.pulford@veohrc.vic.gov.au