The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has launched an investigation into potential unlawful systemic discrimination against people with mental health issues by the travel insurance industry in Victoria.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 14:13

Commission statement on CFA media reports

The Commission confirms that it did not provide any information to The Age in relation to today’s media report that people may have been covertly photographed while entering the Commission’s offices. To the extent that the article implies this, it is inaccurate and misleading.

We continue to work to the release of our Independent Equity and Diversity Review into the Country Fire Authority and Metropolitan Fire Brigade. We are working toward making the report publicly available after the Supreme Court has heard and determined the matter. The matter returns to court on 23 November 2017.

To be a member of the police is to be in the business of respect. Police seek to ensure that citizens respect the law, each other and our right to live in safety. Their role is predicated on mutual respect: without the respect of community members, the police risk losing legitimacy and trust. We expect our police to role model the kinds of attitudes and behaviours that they expect from the community. We want a force that walks the talk.

The Commission today launched the first progress report of the 2015 Independent Review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including predatory behaviour, within Victoria Police.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission today said the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal's decision in the Arora v Melton Christian College case was an important test for clarifying the exceptions in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

Friday, 15 September 2017 16:18

Why the Commission supports marriage equality

Why does the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission support same sex marriage?

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s mandate is to protect and promote human rights and equality for everyone.

This means we address discrimination where it occurs and work to create a fairer society.

The Commission strongly supports amending our laws to allow same-sex couples the right to equality by allowing them to marry. Respect for equality is essential in a democratic and inclusive society. It is our role to advance and advocate for equality and the elimination of discrimination. 

How will same-sex marriage protect equality?

The federal Marriage Act currently defines marriage as between a man and a woman. This definition creates a distinction on the basis of sexual orientation and has prevented same sex couples from marrying.

Amending the Marriage Act to change the definition of marriage to that of "two people" will remove the legal obstacles that treat people differently. Allowing all people to marry, regardless of the sex or gender of the person they love will promote and protect the right to equality by giving the same rights to everyone in our community.

If same sex couples are allowed to marry, how will that affect religious rights?

The same sex marriage debate has engaged the right to equality and the right to freedom of religion. Questions have been raised about how marriage equality would affect the religious freedoms of those with differing religious and doctrinal views of marriage.

Protecting all human rights in our society is important and rights must be exercised in a way that respects the rights of others. Marriage between same sex couples will generally not interfere with the fundamental freedom of everyone to demonstrate their religion in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

That said, there are circumstances where the enjoyment of a right may interfere with another right.

Our laws are flexible and enable us to balance rights and competing public interest considerations. Striking the right balance is a central task for law makers. The law can allow same-sex couples to marry while simultaneously allowing religious bodies to adhere to their beliefs and balance these rights.

Earlier this year, the Senate Select Committee agreed that any amendments to the Marriage Act should protect religious freedoms and observed there was considerable consensus for exempting ministers of religion and religious celebrants from being involved in the solemnisation of same-sex marriages.

A respectful debate

The nature of the same-sex marriage debate is capable of generating unusually pernicious and potentially harmful material.

We urge all proponents in this debate to speak and act respectfully and be conscious of the impact of their words and actions.

The LGBTI community has warned that any extended debate on marriage equality risks harming members of the LGBTI community, particularly young LGBTI people (and especially young LGBTI people in regional areas), who face a higher risk of suicide than their heterosexual peers. There is no place for hateful speech in a debate that only affects those LGBTI people who wish to marry.

This debate is not about the freedom to practice religion, or what children are taught in school, or whether one side is being politically correct or not. We must correct the record and call out false information, especially when it is unrelated to the postal survey that is set to ask solely whether two people of the same sex should be able to marry each other.

Similarly, attacks on people who oppose marriage equality are unacceptable.

What happens after the vote?

The Federal government’s plan for a postal survey on marriage equality is optional and non-binding. The one thing we will be able to say at the end of the postal survey is that it shows the opinions of those who chose to take part.

The next step will be for Federal Parliament to vote on whether to change the law.

Media contact

Peter Davies
0447 526 642

The Victorian Government has vowed to overhaul uniform policies in state schools so that girls aren't forced to wear dresses and skirts.

The conviction of three men found guilty of inciting serious religious vilification of Muslims under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 sends a clear message that there is no place for religious hatred in Victoria, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton today said.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton today said the anti-LGBTI posters found in Melbourne are a clear sign that a respectful debate will be difficult during a plebiscite or postal survey campaign on marriage equality.

"This is the type of hateful and inaccurate material that the LGBTI community warned would be publicised during any kind of plebiscite on marriage equality," Commissioner Hilton said. 

"Loving couples have been waiting far too long for discrimination to be written out of our marriage laws and for marriage equality to be achieved in Australia. 

"We must correct the record and call out false information, especially when it is unrelated to the actual postal survey that is set to ask solely whether two people of the same sex should be able to marry each other. 

"Multiple reviews of the research in this area show that there is a broad consensus children with same-sex parents are no worse off than children with heterosexual parents."

The Commission encourages anyone who is struggling to contact community support services

If you feel you have been discriminated against on the basis of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you can call the Commission on 1300 292 153 or make a complaint online.

Media contact

Peter Davies
0447 526 642

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