“The Sex Discrimination Amendment Bill, which passed the House of Representatives last Thursday and is now before the Senate, is potentially invalid,” FamilyVoice research officer Ros Phillips said today .
“Discrimination is a state responsibility. The Commonwealth has no head of power to pass this law, apart from using international covenants it has ratified. No such covenant prohibits discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status,” she said.
The bill remains the subject of a Senate Inquiry due to report on 17 June. It would make it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. It would undermine Australians’ freedom of association.
“Society now views discrimination as a kind of mortal sin – but this has not always been the case. Discrimination has a long and distinguished history as a virtue. We all need discrimination or discernment in everyday life,” Mrs Phillips said.
“Gender identity is a relatively new term, to describe people who have been born male or female, but have come to ‘feel’ that they belong to the opposite sex. In the past, people with this condition – often called gender dysphoria – have been given therapy to encourage them to accept their biological sex.
“Giving gender dysphoria the status of a protected attribute could reinforce this psychological delusion.”
Prominent Toronto psychiatrist Dr Joseph Berger has also spoken against making gender identity a protected attribute.
Mrs Phillips has deeper concerns about how the bill would undermine democratic freedoms.
“The government has failed to present any evidence that prohibiting discrimination by private groups or individuals on the ground of sexual orientation or the other grounds in the Bill would be in the interests of national security or public safety or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others,” she said. “Government services such as public transport, public hospitals and public education should be and are available to all Australians without discrimination, apart from reasonable restrictions to protect other members of the public from behaviour which disturbs the peace or causes harm to others.
“But a pub owner should be free to declare his establishment a ‘gay pub’ where heterosexuals are excluded – and vice versa – without the need for the complex and costly processes involved in applying for an exemption from a government board or commission.”
“The bill is unjustified and potentially invalid. It should be withdrawn,” Ros Phillips said.
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