office work workplace employment

Community urged to speak up for trans and intersex workplace protection

Equality advocates have urged community members to speak up about the need for workplace protections for sex and gender diverse Australians.

LGBTIQ advocacy group just.equal said it is disappointed that the federal government has chosen not to ensure equal workplace protections for trans and intersex people in a new bill.

The government’s bill responding to the Respect@Work inquiry was tabled last week, without amendments to the Fair Work Act that advocates had hoped would be included to explicitly protect employees from unfair treatment and unlawful dismissal on the grounds of gender identity or sex characteristics.

However, a new inquiry has been launched that will allow a case to be made for this reform. 

Information on the inquiry is available online, and submissions will be open until 9 July.

“The Fair Work Act protects workers from discrimination on a range of grounds to which gender identity and sex characteristics should be added,” said just.equal spokesperson Charlie Burton.

“We are disappointed the government hasn’t done this through the Respect@Work legislation, despite our many representations.

“But the inquiry is an opportunity for LGBTIQA+ people and our allies to make the case that trans, gender diverse, and intersex employees deserve the same workplace protections as other workers.

“It is important for many and varied supporters of equality to make the case because, even if it doesn’t change the government’s mind, it will give Labor, the Greens, and independent members the evidence they need to amend the legislation.”

The federal government last year announced that it would not take action to address the inadequacy of existing laws to protect trans and intersex people from discrimination in the workplace.

“At this point in time, the Australian Government has not indicated an intention to amend the Fair Work Act to explicitly include gender identity or intersex status as grounds for lodging an adverse action or unlawful termination application,” said the office of Christian Porter, Minister for Industrial Relations, in September.

Following the response, just.equal turned to the Labor Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions for support in enacting change.

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