Fighting Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender And Intersex Australians

Every Australian has the right to live their life free from discrimination.

But for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians, discrimination remains an all-too-familiar part of life.

That is why a Shorten Labor Government will appoint a full-time LGBTI Discrimination Commissioner to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), to ensure the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians are protected, and they are free to live their lives without discrimination.

Labor’s LGBTI Discrimination Commissioner will be a new champion for the rights of LGBTI Australians, and help build a more inclusive Australia.  

The fight against discrimination continues

While much progress has been made in the fight for a fairer Australia for LGBTI Australians, that fight is far from over.

Unfortunately, LGBTI Australians continue to face discrimination in many areas of their life.

A significant number of LGBTI Australians ‘occasionally’ or ‘usually’ hide their sexuality or gender identity in a range of situations for fear of violence or discrimination (44 per cent in public and 34 per cent when accessing services). [1]

LGBTI Australians also continue to face a range of challenges in their day-to-day lives, including accessing government services (health and education) as well as public participation in sport. [2]

We also know that LGBTI people, particularly young people, suffer from a range of mental health issues.

In its Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Rights report [3] last year, the AHRC noted:

  • Research suggests that the rate of suicide for LGBT people is 3.5 to 14 times higher than the general population.
  • LGBT people are also at a higher risk for a range of mental diagnoses.
  • LGBT people are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety.

It is clear that LGBTI Australians continue to face a range of significant challenges in their day-to-day lives.

Unfortunately, according to the AHRC, this includes state-sanctioned structural discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. [4]

In 2013, the former Labor Government amended the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 so that the Act would cover discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and gender diverse discrimination.

However, until now, these issues have been investigated by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

A New Champion for LBGTI Human Rights

Labor will appoint a permanent, dedicated full-time LGBTI Discrimination Commissioner, to ensure that the rights of LGBTI Australians have a new champion, and lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex Australians can feel safer, more secure and more included in Australian society.

Whilst Labor understands that this will not put an end to the discrimination experienced by many LGBTI Australians, having a dedicated discrimination commissioner is an important next step in the fight for a more equal Australia.

Labor will keep fighting for marriage equality

Unfortunately, there are still areas where the Federal Government itself directly discriminates against LGBTI Australians – and nowhere is this more evident than in our current marriage laws.

The Marriage Act contains one of the last forms of legislated discrimination in Australia.

It’s time that changed.

Marriage equality is about recognising that love between two people of the same gender is of equal meaning, equal value and entitled to equal respect. 

So long as the law remains unchanged, LGBTI Australians continue to be sent a message that their relationships are somehow inferior to their heterosexual peers. 

That isn’t right, and it isn’t fair.

To put an end to this discrimination, a Shorten Labor Government will introduce legislation for marriage equality within the first 100 days of the next parliament.

Labor will not proceed with a harmful, divisive plebiscite.

Malcolm Turnbull has betrayed LGBTI Australians

Despite having declared himself a supporter of marriage equality, Malcolm Turnbull is no different to Tony Abbott when it comes to delivering for LGBTI Australians.

Instead of delivering marriage equality, Malcolm Turnbull has committed himself to a harmful, hurtful and divisive plebiscite, at a cost of $160 million.

If it proceeds, this plebiscite will only serve to give free licence to bigots and homophobes. Like most Australians, Labor knows this plebiscite was only designed to delay making marriage equality a reality.

Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberal colleagues have also been openly hostile to Australia’s human rights system, which the Attorney-General Senator Brandis declared had become “unbalanced”.

In their very first budget, the Liberals cut funding for one full-time Commissioner from the AHRC – removing a powerful voice for the interests of people with disability.

Labor has committed to reappointing a full-time disability discrimination commissioner, and now, LGBTI Australians will get a new voice to defend their rights, and help promote a more inclusive society.

Only Labor will stand up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians and fight for a fairer, more diverse and inclusive Australia.

Financial Implications







Net Impact






[1] 2012. Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University. Private Lives 2: The second national survey of the health and wellbeing of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Australians.

[2] 2015. Australian Human Rights Commission. Resilient Individuals: Sexual Orientation Gender Identity & Intersex Rights – National Consultation Report.

[3] 2015. Australian Human Rights Commission. Resilient Individuals: Sexual Orientation Gender Identity & Intersex Rights – National Consultation Report.

[4] Ibid