Audit of sex and gender identity discrimination in laws

Monday, 15 June 2015

The University of Adelaide's South Australian Law Reform Institute has launched an audit of potential discrimination in the State's laws on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or intersex status – and is now seeking submissions from the community.

The audit, being conducted at the request of the South Australian Government, aims to identify discrimination in all State laws and regulations that impact on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people.

"Discrimination is always an important issue for our society and has become increasingly so over the past century," says the Dean of the University of Adelaide Law School and Director of the SA Law Reform Institute, Professor John Williams.

"Despite a greater diversity and vibrancy in our South Australian community, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, intersex status and gender is unfortunately still experienced by many people. There is now a growing awareness of the need to better understand how to prevent such discrimination – and that includes the ways in which our laws and regulations impact on individuals and their families," Professor Williams says.

Among the issues being considered by the Institute is the gendered language used in many laws and regulations, which can exclude gender diverse people and some people with intersex variants.

"For example, there are many laws that talk about 'men' and 'women'. We are looking carefully at these laws to see whether they need to be changed to include people who identify as a man or a woman, regardless of their sex characteristics," Professor Williams says.

"While these changes are important, we know from our initial consultations that a handful of laws have a much stronger impact on the lives of LBGTIQ South Australians. These are laws that affect how a person's identity is legally registered, whether they can access certain services, whether they have adequate protection against unlawful discrimination, and whether and how they might start a family.

"The Institute intends to look closely at how other Australian States and Territories have addressed these issues, as well as considering the existing reviews underway here in South Australia in relation to adoption and sexual reassignment procedures," Professor Williams says.

As part of the audit, the Institute is keen to hear from anyone who may have experienced some form of discrimination in this area, or faced a legal barrier. To be included in this process, visit the South Australian Government's Your Say website or email the Institute at: The deadline for consultation is Monday 6 July.

At the end of the audit process, the SA Law Reform Institute will make recommendations to the State Government on what action to take.

The SA Law Reform Institute, based at the University of Adelaide, is supported by a grant from the South Australian Attorney-General’s Department.


Contact Details

Professor John Williams
Dean of Law School
Director, South Australian Law Reform Institute
The University of Adelaide

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762