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13 Laws That Show LGBTI Australians Still Aren't Equal

Marriage, for one – but lots of others too.

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A new report has found lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians face state-sanctioned discrimination and "unacceptable levels of violence, harassment and bullying".

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Of over 1500 people surveyed by the Australian Human Rights Commission, almost 75% had experienced bullying, harassment or violence on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

The report also found LGBTI people felt excluded from or experienced barriers in healthcare, education, sporting teams, and community events, along with an "acute need" for mental health services that cater to LGBTI people.

LGBTI people were also discriminated against in law in the areas of relationships, reproduction, and the age of consent.

As a result of the study, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) has put forward several recommendations for law reforms that would work to overturn this disadvantage.

Marriage equality was one of those recommendations, with the HRC concluding there was "broad community support" for the reform.

Several recommendations would also make the legal transition process easier for transgender and otherwise gender diverse people, while others focussed on parenting.

Commissioner Tim Wilson stressed the recommendations would not provide "special privileges" for LGBTI people, but rather bring them in line with the rest of the country.

"No recommendations from the report encourage the recognition of 'group rights' or special legal privileges because of who they are," he said.

"Fulfilling all recommendations would only lead to LGBTI Australians being treated as individuals equally by the government and the law."

Here's what the HRC recommended.

1. Legalise marriage equality.

The Marriage Act 1961 should be amended to allow any two consenting adults to marry, regardless of gender. "Marriage is an important institution that reflects a cultural understanding of relationship; by not extending marriage to same-sex couples, the social exclusion of same-sex couples is perpetuated," the report said.
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The Marriage Act 1961 should be amended to allow any two consenting adults to marry, regardless of gender.

"Marriage is an important institution that reflects a cultural understanding of relationship; by not extending marriage to same-sex couples, the social exclusion of same-sex couples is perpetuated," the report said.

2. Transgender children shouldn't have to go through the Family Court to get hormone treatment.

Currently, people under 18 who wish to transition can only do so via a court order, regardless of the views of their doctors and family.

3. Pretty much all the states and territories need to revise their anti-discrimination laws and make sure they include LGBTI people.

4. Specifically, states need to make sure their laws align with the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

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5. Several states and territories should legislate to expunge the criminal records of historic consensual gay sex offences, or implement schemes to ensure it happens.

6. And Queensland and South Australia should abolish the homosexual advance defence.

Also known as the "homosexual panic defence", this allows a person to argue they were provoked into violence as somebody they thought to be gay made a sexual advance at them.

7. A statutory declaration should be enough to prove a person's gender transition for documentation.

Crucially, people should not be forced to undergo gender reassignment surgery, which is a necessity in several states for people wishing to change their legal sex on government records and identity documents.
Samuel Kubani / Getty Images

Crucially, people should not be forced to undergo gender reassignment surgery, which is a necessity in several states for people wishing to change their legal sex on government records and identity documents.

8. And the requirement for a married transgender person to get divorced before legally changing their sex should be removed.

"I have been married 43 years to my wife and the state would force us to divorce if I chose to have my birth certificate [changed] to female," wrote one survey participant.

9. Victoria should complete their process to abolish a law specifically criminalising deliberate transmission of HIV.

While it could still be a crime to deliberately and maliciously infect another person with HIV, this is already covered, and an HIV-specific law is stigmatising and unnecessary.

10. Queensland should make the age of consent equal for gay men.

Currently, while anyone else can legally have sex at age 16, gay men have to wait until 18.
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Currently, while anyone else can legally have sex at age 16, gay men have to wait until 18.

11. States and territories should amend their laws to ensure parents can be recognised on birth certificates.

12. Discriminatory laws in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria should be amended so couples can adopt based on their capacity, not their LGBTI status.

13. South Australia's law preventing certain LGBTI people from accessing Assisted Human Reproduction Services should be amended.

Jonathan Nackstrand / Getty Images