Submission to the WA Law Reform Commission on anti-discrimination law reform

IHRA has made a submission to the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia in response to a discussion paper on reform of the State’s Equal Opportunity Act.

The discussion paper and associated issues papers unfortunately conflate intersex with ‘gender history’, likely as a result of reforms dating from 2000. We respond to this, and ask some questions about the Commission’s understanding of this, in our submission. The discussion paper also unfortunately refers to superseded legislation in the ACT, Tasmania and Victoria, with relevance to our recommendations.


Sex characteristics

In line with best practice developments in international human rights law, the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10, the Darlington Statement, and developments in ACT, Tasmania and Victoria, we recommend that the Western Australia government reform anti-discrimination law by prohibiting discrimination on the ground of ‘sex characteristics’, as follows:

sex characteristics means a person’s physical features relating to sex, and includes:
(a) the person’s genitalia and other sexual and reproductive parts of the person’s anatomy; and
(b) the person’s chromosomes; and
(c) the person’s hormones; and
(d) secondary features emerging as a result of puberty.

In line with developments in ACT and Victoria, and the report of the religious freedoms review panel, no exemptions should be enacted.

Genetic discrimination

In line with best practice international developments and recommendations for Australian jurisdictions, we recommend that the Western Australian government prohibit genetic discrimination in insurance and employment.

Protections from harmful practices in medical settings

In line with evolving best practice as described in public commitments and action in the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria, and in line with the recommendations of UN Treaty Bodies to Australia, we recommend that the Western Australian government enact separate protections from harmful practices in medical settings for people with innate variations of sex characteristics.

A Human Rights Act

IHRA supports proposals to enact human rights legislation in Australian jurisdictions, as implemented in the ACT, Queensland and Victoria. We strongly recommend that the Western Australian government build on existing proposals to reform equal opportunity law by taking this further step.

More information

IHRA submission (PDF format)

IHRA submission (Word DOCX format)

The Law Reform Commission discussion paper and issues papers