Homosexual discrimination


    What does the law say about homosexual discrimination?

    It is generally against the law in NSW to treat you unfairly or harass you because:

    • you are gay or lesbian;
    • someone thinks you are gay or lesbian; or
    • because you have a relative, friend, associate or work colleague who is gay or lesbian, or someone thinks they are gay or lesbian.

    Indirect homosexual discrimination is also against the law. This occurs when there is a rule or requirement that disadvantages gay men or lesbians more than heterosexuals - unless it can be shown that the rule or requirement is 'reasonable in all the circumstances'.

    For example, it could be indirect discrimination for a school to insist that students bring partners of the opposite sex to a school dance, because heterosexual students would be able to bring their boyfriends or girlfriends, but homosexual students would not.

    When does this law apply?

    Homosexual discrimination is against the law in the following areas:

    • in employment - when you apply for a job or for a licence or registration to perform a job, when you are at work, or when you leave a job;

    • when you get or try to get most types of goods or services - for example, from shops, banks, lawyers, government departments, the police, public transport, local councils, doctors, hospitals and other medical services, hotels, sporting venues and entertainment venues;

    • when you apply to get into or study in any State education institution, which includes any government school, college or university;

    • when you rent accommodation such as houses, units, hotel or motel rooms and commercial premises; and

    • when you try to enter or join a registered club, or when you get services from one. A registered club is a club that sells alcohol or has gambling machines.

    Homosexual vilification is also against the law

    Homosexual vilification is also against the anti-discrimination law. Vilification is defined as any public act that could encourage hatred, serious contempt, or severe ridicule towards people who are gay or lesbian, or who are thought to be gay or lesbian.

    Public acts could include remarks in a newspaper or journal, in other publications, on radio or television or on the internet, including social networking sites. They could also include graffiti, posters, verbal abuse, speeches or statements, gestures and badges or clothing with slogans on them, as long as these are displayed, made or worn in public. The vilification law does not cover acts that are not public, for example abuse over a back fence that no-one else can hear.

    If the vilification involves a threat of physical harm or inciting others to threaten physical harm, it may be referred to the Attorney General and prosecuted as a crime of serious vilification. You generally have 12 months after the events occurred to lodge a discrimination complaint, but in this case the prosecution must commence within six months from the date when the vilification occurred.

    More information on vilification and serious vilification

    HIV/AIDS discrimination and vilification are also against the law

    It may be against the law if you are treated unfairly, harassed or vilified if any of the following are the case:

    • you are HIV positive or have AIDS;

    • someone thinks you are HIV positive or have AIDS;

    • you have a relative, friend, work colleague or associate is who is HIV positive or has AIDS, or someone thinks they are HIV positive or have AIDS.

    More about HIV/AIDS discrimination.....