Perth’s LGBTQI+ community is hoping an overhaul of the state’s anti-discrimination laws will lead to positive change.
On Monday the Federal Government announced it will be making changes to WA’s Equal Opportunity Act 1984 in hopes to better protect those in the LGBTQI+ community.
Under changes, people who are proven to commit sexual harassment, domestic violence, and discrimination against LGBTQI+ people in the workplace will be subject to harsher consequences.
Rainbow Community House social worker Jarra Kittow says discrimination in the workplace is particularly detrimental for the LGBTQI+ community.
“Especially … when sometimes the workforce is not that accepting towards diversity,” she says.
“It’s great the government is doing more to protect the LGBTI+ community.
“It’s really great to hear a law being passed that protects women and the queer community.”
In 2014, the Australian Human Rights Commission found 11 in 100 Australians identify in some way as LGBTQI+. It also found two in 10 Australians, who identified as part of that community, had experienced some form of physical abuse.
Transgender activist Bridge Truell says the update to the law is a good step towards changing things for the better.
“I think it’s a really, really good first step and I think looking at things like [our discrimination protection] is a really good place to start,” they said.
Bridge Truell says they have faced discrimination in the workplace with coworkers asking personal questions which they found rude and invasive.
They said like many, they have been denied jobs due to coming out as transgender.
“I think there’s a lot of instances where I have been turned done for jobs and not really gotten any good reason as to why,” they said.
Listen to more from Bridge Truell.
Under this new law, supporters believe employers will no longer be able to discriminate against people like Truell who are looking for employment.
Rene Perez is the president of BearsPerth, a male LGBTI+ community group. He says he was shocked to hear a teacher in a Catholic school was fired from her job because she identified as LGBTI+.
He says he hopes the overhaul of the law will lead to change.
“I long to see the day where queer youth aren’t subjected to discrimination because of the way they talk or the way they present.”