Submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Consultation on

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Submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Consultation on

Protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity

by

Erinyes Autonomous Activist Lesbians


Table of Contents

Table of Contents i

Definition of terms 1

About Erinyes Autonomous Activist Lesbians 2

Introduction 2

What benefit would there be in federal anti-discrimination laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity? 4

Including Gender Identity Protection Creates Injustice 4

All Gender Identities Are Socially Constructed 6

Gender Identity Protection Conflicts with Sex Identity Protection 7

Biology Is Not Destiny, But It Is A Significant Contributor To The Construction Of Personal And Social Gender 8

Problems with Lesbian Invisibility and Being Subsumed Under ‘Women’ 9

What benefit would there be in federal law prohibiting vilification and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity? 11

Can you provide examples of situations where federal protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or sex and/or gender identity are needed because state and territory laws do not provide adequate protections? 13

Have you experienced discrimination because of your sexual orientation or sex and/or gender identity for which there is no legal protection? 15

Have you experienced vilification or harassment because of your sexual orientation or sex and/or gender identity for which there is no legal protection? 16

What terminology should be used in federal anti-discrimination legislation if protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is to be included? 18

What terminology should be used in federal anti-discrimination legislation if protection from discrimination on the basis of sex and/or gender identity is to be included? 19

What terminology should be used to ensure that people who identify as intersex are protected from discrimination in federal law? Should the term ‘intersex’ be used? Should protection from discrimination on the basis of ‘sex’ include people who are of ‘indeterminate sex’? 20

What other actions would you like to see the Australian Government take to better protect and promote the rights of LGBTI people in Australia? 21

Protection from Repeated Challenges 21

Protection for Sexual orientation, Education on Human Rights and criminalisation of violence 21

Gender Reassignment Documentation Hides the Real Facts 21

Medical Interventions and Protection of Children 22

Exemptions and Tax Payer Funded Discriminatory Service provision 22

Application of Religious Exceptions to Commercial Activities 23

Human Rights and Justice Education is Federal Responsibility 23

Peak Bodies Not Representative 23

Bill of Human Rights Required To Harmonise Legislation 24

Lesbian Visibility in Research and Statistical Data 24

Summary Erinyes submission 25

Appendix A: - Interview With a Young Lesbian (YL) 30

Appendix B: Sappho’s Party Inc and EO practices in SA 34

Appendix C – Labels used on forms for self identification 35

Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Represented in Various Australian Surveys of Non-Heterosexual People 1994-2010 36

Appendix D: Survey of Lesbians-Born-Female on Issues of Lesbian Born Female Needs for Lesbians-Born-Female Space 39

Raw Data 39

Appendix E: The Catch-22 of Lesbian Aged Care 41



Definition of terms


The Commission might find that some of the terms and definitions used in this submission are long, complex and cumbersome. However they are necessary to convey the meaning we intend. For example, the simple term ‘woman’ no longer describes women-born-female as it has been extended to be used as a collective noun, which includes MTCF. However, the invisibility of women-born-female, raised as girls, in changes to anti-discrimination legislation, has resulted in the loss of women-born-female rights and thus there is the need for such specific definitions for the groups that this submission represents. Definitions of terms that can potentially be misinterpreted follows:

  • Woman – one who is born with female sex characteristics.

  • The term lesbian refers to women who are emotionally and sexually attracted to other women. Wherever, possible in this submission, the term lesbian is used in preference to homosexual and does not include bisexual women.

  • Living in society as woman – we use this term to be quite clear that we are referring to women and lesbians who are born-female, who are not living as female to male transgendered people.

  • Male-to-Constructed-Female and Female-to-Constructed-Male – using the word ‘constructed’ clearly differentiates between women who were born female and have biologically female bodies and transgendered people who have received hormone treatment or who have been surgically changed to have an apparently female body.
  • Heterosexism: a belief that heterosexuality is or should be the only acceptable sexual orientation “and that alternative sexualities pose a threat to society” (Australian Medical Association: 2002)


  • Lesbophobia –refers to a hatred of lesbianism. However, as pointed out by Kirk and Madsen (1989:xxii) the term phobia refers to “fear of”. The emotion experienced by those called lesbophobes is hatred rather than fear.

  • Homophobia and transphobia – the definition of lesbophobia can be applied here by substituting the words homophobia or transphobia for lesbophobia.

  • Internalised lesbophobia – the process where society’s conditioned hatred of Lesbians is believed by lesbians and this self-stigmatisation affects their self worth

  • Gender and sex -- The word ‘sex’ refers to biological characteristics and the word ‘gender’ refers to socially constructed behavioural characteristics arbitrarily assigned to either women or men.




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