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‘Offend’ rethink offers chance for further scrutiny

Media Release
Penny Wright 31 Jan 2013

The Australian Greens have welcomed the Attorney General's decision to remove the prohibition on causing offence in the draft anti-discrimination bill.

Greens spokesperson on legal affairs Senator Penny Wright said the move would allow public scrutiny to turn to other areas of improvement needed in the legislation.

"Attorney General Nicola Roxon has made the right decision to remove this clause, which was, I believe, an unintentional overreach and drafting error," Senator Wright said.

"Many groups raised concerns about this section of the draft bill in Senate hearings last week and it is pleasing Minister Roxon has responded to these concerns.

"However, the inquiry was also told of a number of gaps which now need to be addressed, particularly the exclusion of intersex people from discrimination protection.

"Human rights groups and legal experts have called for intersex as a protected attribute and we hope Minister Roxon will now be able to turn her mind to this matter.

"Religious exemptions also need to be addressed to come into line with international human rights standards. Any organisation receiving public funding to provide a public service ought to comply with anti-discrimination principles.

"This 'right to offend' has taken up much of the political debate and I hope by settling this now, everyone will have a chance to look at all the other areas of the bill which need improvement."

Senator Wright is a member of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee currently looking into the draft Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Bill 2012.

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