The Federal Government may be considering changing the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work Acts. An enquiry is presently taking place and interested parties have had opportunities to make written submissions.
It is not quite clear yet how the politics will play out and it all depends of the Morrison Government’s voting numbers and whether any members of the coalition parties will cross the floor if the amendments bills come before the senate.
There are two influences in the Senate at the moment. Morrison’s numbers plus the far-right members have been angling to reduce the rights of people for sex and/or gender diverse (SGD) groups with the introduction of various bills. These bills have claimed the right to religious freedom; but in reality, they seek to discriminate against all none heteronormative members of society with impunity.
If this sector succeeds the Fair Work and the Sex Discrimination Acts will be doomed to having exemptions to allow all religious people to discriminate in sectors of society like work, housing, religion, emergency shelter and education. Any subsequent civil liberties amendments may not happen for a generation.
On the other side of the house are Labor and the Greens who oppose further curtailment of civil liberties for sex and/or gender diverse groups. The Greens clearly state they are for the removal of all exemptions in all acts that allow discrimination.
Labor however during this term has done a lot of sitting on the fence. They state they do not want any protection for sex and/or gender diverse groups removed but also will not commit to the removal of discrimination exemptions in any present bills. In reality they are courting the religious vote to try and get over the line at the next election. In other words, their throwing us to the lions to please popularism.
So should these amendments progress and get to the house for voting it may depend on coalition senators crossing the floor to block them. It is unlikely they will be given a free conscience vote so they will have to vote against their parties. Politicians are very reluctant to do this as they can be deselected at future elections and relegated to back benches, however there are openly gay coalition senators who may take that risk.
The ideal of course would be for the Morison Government to fulfill its prelection promise to remove discrimination against SGD groups from all ACTs. However so far this government has publicly proved to be unapologetically homo, intersex and trans phobic.
SAGE’s submission requests the federal Government complies with its human rights commitments in accordance with that UN Charter of Human Rights by removing all exemptions to discrimination against SGD groups in all federal legislation.
Post Trumpism in the USA has seen the reversal of populism prejudices however Australian politics do not move that fast. We don’t have a President who can sign an executive order so we have to lobby for years for civil liberties and if we lose what we presently have it will be a hard climb to claw back present progress.