Passed in the last days of the 43rd Parliament, the Sex
Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and
Intersex Status) Act 2013 ('SDAA') has now commenced, after
being proclaimed as of 1 August 2013.
The SDAA amends the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) ('the
Act') by inserting a range of new protected attributes
including sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex
The key changes are most apparent in the following three new
distinct heads of discrimination:
s5A: discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation
s5B: discrimination of gender identity
s5C: discrimination on the grounds of intersex status
The Act defines 'sexual orientation' as a person's
sexual orientation towards persons belonging to the same sex, a
different sex or both. For the purposes of preventing offence or
inaccuracy, the definition of sexual orientation does not refer to
homosexuality, lesbianism, or bisexuality.
The inclusion of 'intersex status' is a significant
amendment to the Act, not previously recognised in Australian
legislation. As opposed to gender identity, which denotes a
person's identity, appearance or mannerism, the term intersex
specifically refers to a person's biological conditions or
A further significant feature of the amendment is its protection
of same-sex couples from discrimination on the basis of
relationship status. Specifically, the amendment improves upon
provisions aimed towards protecting people from discrimination on
the basis of 'marital status', to provide similar
protection to people belonging to same-sex de facto relationships.
To that end, the amendment changes several provisions referring to
'marital status' with the new construction of 'marital
or relationship status'.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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