President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, and Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, said today that the Australian Human Rights Commission was very disappointed that the amendments proposed to the Sex Discrimination Act would not prevent aged care facilities from discriminating against potential clients on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or because they are intersex.
“I am concerned that a major area of discrimination against older LGBTI people has been left out of this bill,” said Commissioner Ryan.
“Though I welcome the proposed measures for the Sex Discrimination Act that will offer stronger protections to LGBTI people, including older LGBTI people, who experience discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, older LGBTI people at the stage of requiring aged care must have their rights protected”.
Commissioner Ryan urged the parliament to add this protection to the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 now before parliament.
“I believe there is general agreement in parliament, and certainly in the community, that older LGBTI people needing care should not be excluded from aged care services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said.
The exposure draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, deferred yesterday, proposed removal of the exemption that allows church based aged care providers to exclude LGBTI people.
President Triggs said that “as this change was not contentious, it should be included in the Sex discrimination amendment bill now before the parliament.”
“This is one aspect of the original consolidation draft that does not need further work or consultation,” President Triggs said. “It is clearly widely supported, is a simple change and actually reflects current polices of most church based aged care providers.”
“Protection against sexual orientation discrimination is an urgent matter,” said Commissioner Ryan. “As the population ages, more and more GLBTI people will be reaching their 70s and 80’s and, like the rest of the population, starting to require either home based or residential aged care.”
The Commission will provide further comments on the operation of the proposed provisions when we have had a chance to consider the bill.
Media contact: Brinsley Marlay (02) 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529