Issues of discrimination against gay men and lesbians
The historic disadvantage suffered by homosexual persons has been widely recognised and documented. Discrimination continues to be their experience in employment, laws, policies and programs of government, access to services and exclusion from aspects of public life.
There is urgent need for commonwealth action to outlaw discriminatory acts, practices and treatment to which gay men and lesbians are subjected. Extensive consultation with interested parties including gay men and lesbians themselves, government and non-government organisations, employer and employee organisations as well as State and Territory Governments is necessary before legislation is prepared.
Issues in employment and occupation
For many gay men and lesbians discrimination in employment and in the workplace is a significant issue. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission receives numerous complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace, harassment and unfair treatments. Breaches of confidentiality are a particular problem with many gay men and lesbians fearing exposure of their sexual orientation and the consequences.
Complainants indicate that higher duties and overtime are often denied to gay men and lesbians. In extreme cases, gay men and lesbians have resigned or were forced to resign because of their sexual orientation.
Few employers have policies and procedures to protect workers against discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. Harassment is often not taken seriously by heterosexuals. Assumptions about lesbians and gay men shape employer-employee and employee-employee relations in ways that lead to unfair treatment and loss of rights even where there is no conscious discrimination.
The experience of anti-discrimination law in the workplace is that, once assumptions are deemed unacceptable and employees feel that their status cannot be an issue in promotion, hiring or firing, then those employees are much more likely to contribute their talents and efforts without constantly fearing...