What is discrimination?

In New South Wales, certain types of discrimination are against the law in specific areas of public life. Sexual harassment, vilification and victimisation are also against the law.

Discrimination is treating someone unfairly because of a characteristic they have, or they are assumed to have, that is protected by New South Wales law. These characteristics are:

Discrimination is against the law in certain public places. These are:

  • work
  • education
  • provision of goods and services
  • provision of accommodation 
  • registered clubs.

Carer’s discrimination is only against the law at work.

Sexual harassment

It is against the law to sexually harass someone. Sexual harassment is any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that makes someone feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. This could include:

  • sexual advances
  • requests for sexual favours
  • sexual gestures, jokes or comments.


Vilification is a public act that could incite hatred, serious contempt or ridicule towards a person or group. Vilification is against the law for certain characteristics. These characteristics are:

  • race
  • homosexuality
  • transgender status
  • HIV/AIDS status.

Public acts that threaten or incite violence

A public act that threatens or incites violence towards a group of people on the basis of race, religious belief or affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status or HIV/AIDS status is a criminal offence that should be referred to the police.


If you are mistreated because you have made (or plan to make) a complaint of discrimination, or you have provided information or evidence about a complaint of discrimination, this is known as victimisation. Victimisation is against the law in New South Wales.