Queensland to protect non-binary and gender-diverse people in changes to its Anti-Discrimination Act

The Australian state has updated its Anti-Discrimination Act. (Getty)

Queensland, Australia has updated its Anti-Discrimination Act to explicitly protect non-binary and gender-diverse people for the first time. 

The changes came into effect on 29 April, which imposed tougher penalties for hate crimes and improved vilification protections under law in the northeast Australian state. The penalties apply for crimes “motivated by hatred or serious contempt” based on a victim’s sexuality, gender identity, sex characteristics, race or religion.

The update to protect non-binary and gender-diverse Queenslanders brings the law up to par with other states in the country. Intersex people are also explicitly protected under vilification law for the first time, too.

The displaying of certain hate symbols is now a punishable crime in the state, which is home to the capital of Brisbane and the world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef.

The updated law also sees a more inclusive definition of gender identity, while some “outdated and offensive” language has been removed from the legislation.

Queensland human rights commissioner Scott McDougall said gender diverse and intersex people have previously been excluded from the state legislation despite “significant” evidence that they suffer from stigma and discrimination. 

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He said: “Vilification presents a harmful and insidious threat to our communities and to our shared experience as Queenslanders.

“It makes Queenslanders feel they don’t belong in our common spaces or in our local communities. It is severely underreported.”

McDougall added that the reforms were “long overdue” and mean that the state’s LGBTQ+ community can expect stronger protections, as well as the diverse religious and multicultural community.

The LGBTI Legal Service in Brisbane, which offers free legal advice to those in the community, praised the changes to the legislation. 

“Although protections against gender identity discrimination have been in the Act since 2002, the law was unclear and inconsistent, and also largely excluded non-binary people. These changes will help protect our communities by making the law clearer, more comprehensive, and more inclusive,” it wrote on an Instagram post.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of serious vilification or a hate crime in the state, call the Queensland Police on 131 444 for non-urgent matters. In an emergency, always call 000.