Australia has been very receptive towards the protection of the rights of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) people. The Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994 legalised sexual activity between consenting adults throughout Australia and prohibited laws that arbitrarily interfere with the sexual conduct of adults in private.
The State party legalised same-sex marriage in December 2017. States and territories began granting domestic partnership benefits and relationship recognition to same-sex couples from 2003 onwards, with federal law recognising same-sex couples since 2009 as de facto relationships.
Transgender people have legal recognition of their identity, and intersex people are also protected from discrimination since 2013 under the Sex Discrimination (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act, with additional protection provided under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986, Fair Work Act 2009, Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994.
The last State party report was submitted in 2016 and contained a mention of LBTI people, from the perspective of same sex relationships. The report that the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill Act 2013 was amended to make it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. Same sex couples are now also protected under the definition of â€œmarital or relationship status”. These protections apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse and intersex people.
The CEDAW Committee provided its first SOGIESC-focused rights-affirming observations to Australia at the 70th Session. The Committee recommended that a holistic strategy is required to address negative socio-cultural patterns in public and private spheres, which will help towards protecting LBTI people from gender-based violence. It also stated that barriers to accessing healthcare, especially SRHR should be removed for LBTI people.
It noted that medical procedures on intersex infants and children should be halted till they reach an age where they can provide free and informed consent. Counselling and other forms of remedies must be made available to victims who have been subjected to unnecessary medical procedures.
The List Of Issues from March 2023 indicates a clear relationship between mental health and LBTI people’s rights. It contained two issues – one asked what measures implemented to ensure a safe and more inclusive learning environment, in particular for indigenous girls and women, girls and women with disabilities, migrant women and girls, including those born in the State party, and lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and intersex persons, and recommended the allocation of additional resources to curb the deteriorating mental health situation of women and girls, in particular young mothers, indigenous women, women with disabilities, women in detention, migrant women and girls and LBTI people.
The Committee used an intersectional lens to state that discriminatory stereotypes of gender roles should be challenged and indigenous LBTI people’s rights should be protected. Another recommendation was to address the mental health situation of LBTI women and girls and reinforce preventative measures and allocate adequate funding to the national disability insurance scheme.
The Committee wanted Australia to guarantee the rights of transgender women to bodily integrity, autonomy, and self-determination and abolish requirements regarding medical treatment for transgender women who wish to obtain legal recognition of their gender.
The Committee noted the impact of harassment and bullying on women and girls in school environments and how this exposes them to many intersecting forms of discrimination; it acknowledged the amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status, in 2013.