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EMA Bill Proposed Amendments - Expanding Grounds for Refusal to Include Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity

Speeches in Parliament
Penny Wright 28 Feb 2012

Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (18:27):

by leave-I move Australian Greens amendments (4), (5) and (17) on sheet 7189 together:

(4) Schedule 2, heading to Division 2, page 19 (line 25), omit "and sexual orientation", substitute ", sexual orientation and gender identity".
(5) Schedule 2, item 37, page 19 (line 28), after "orientation,", insert "gender identity,".
(17) Schedule 3, item 5, page 45 (line 19), after "orientation,", insert "gender identity,".

The effect of these amendments will be to expand the existing grounds for refusing an extradition or mutual assistance request to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The bill, as it stands, does include new grounds for refusing extradition if, upon surrender, the person may be discriminated against on the basis of his or her sex or sexual orientation. It also adds discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as an additional ground for refusing a mutual assistance request.

The Australian Greens have welcomed these amendments. However, the bill, in its current form, does not extend these protections to discrimination on the basis of gender identity. It is no secret that during the 2010 election campaign the Australian Labor Party made a commitment to introduce new protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity into Commonwealth antidiscrimination laws. The government has since confirmed to us that it is firmly opposed to discrimination against a person on the basis of their gender identity and proposes to introduce gender identity discrimination protections as part of its broader antidiscrimination harmonisation and consolidation project.

Again, Minister Clare's office has assured us that concerns about discrimination on the basis of gender identity can be addressed through the Attorney-General's general discretion to refuse extradition or assistance. But this provides no guarantee that the Attorney-General will turn her-or his in the future-mind to these matters in any particular case or, indeed, that any future Attorney-General would be minded to consider these matters. Minister Clare's office has also indicated that the consolidation project may include consequential amendments to other laws such as the extradition and mutual assistance acts. I emphasise the use of the word 'may' in that sentence; it is not a guarantee. The Australian Greens firmly support the strengthening of Australia's equality laws in order to bring about a fairer, healthier and more inclusive society, and it has long been a policy position of the Australian Greens that freedom of sexuality and gender identity are fundamental human rights. On this basis, I commend the amendments to the chamber.

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