As predicted, anti-discrimination bill dumped, too controversial

by John Nakamura Remy

The Australian reports that the new Attorney-General has dumped the planned reforms to anti-discrimination law, as predicted yesterday on the stirrer. It’s understood that the government was unwilling to get into another bruising stoush, this time with employers and religious groups, over it’s reform proposals.

Mark Dreyfus complained that the Senate Committee response to the expose draft contained so many suggested changes that it would be impossible to rework the bill in the time available.

He suggested it might be possible to proceed now with some elements of the package provided the changes were simple and easy, but was unable to say if the full range of changes would be brought in before the election. Which basically means it’s toast.

In the meantime a simple amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act will be brought in to allow the government to claim it had fulfilled its election promise to extend the act to cover sexual orientation.

The government will not curtail or remove the ‘religious exemptions’ which give church-owned businesses special privileges to discriminate against clients and employees who do not conform to their moral codes – including gays and lesbians, in accordance with assurances given to the Australian Christian Lobby by Julia Gillard.

As a token sop to the LGBTI community the government will likely retain the proposal to remove the religious exemptions from aged care, which is unlikely to satisfy either gay advocates, who want them all gone, or the religious groups which want all exemptions retained.

The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender, Identity and Intersex Status) will come before parliament on Thursday. Mark Dreyfus will be giving a press conference at 9.45am today.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)