FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION BILL ENTRENCHES DISCRIMINATIVE ACCESS BARRIERS TO HEALTHCARE FOR LGBTI PEOPLE

4 October 2019

The National LGBTI Health Alliance (the Alliance), the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people (LGBTI) calls for the immediate removal of the Bill’s provisions relating to conscientious objections for health practitioners as they will act as discriminative barriers to LGBTI people in accessing the health care they need.

Nicky Bath, Executive Director said that “the Alliance supports the federal government’s commitment to provide protection from discrimination for people of faith in areas of public life. However, the current bill goes too far in giving a licence to healthcare practitioners to discriminate.”

She continued, “While we pride ourselves on having a universal healthcare system in Australia, we know that for many marginalised people including LGBTI people, there are significant barriers to accessing the health care they need.  It is concerning given the significant health disparities we experience that instead of improving our access to healthcare the government is focused on creating more barriers.”

Australian and international research has shown that LGBTI people already underutilise health services and delay seeking support due to actual or anticipated discrimination or stigma from service providers.

“The proposed rules on conscientious objections in Sections 8(5)-(6) of the Bill are overly broad and have the potential to significantly impact on efforts to increase and improve access to GPs, primary health care, and allied health services for a number of sub-populations, including LGBTI people” said Nicky Bath.

“The Bill will have the undesirable consequence of deterring government efforts to reach for example its ambitious goal of ‘zero-suicides’ in Australia as well as the other priorities that our outlined in numerous health and wellbeing national Strategies. We are also concerned that these provisions have the real likelihood of adding to the determinants that already place LGBTI people at a higher risk of suicide than their non-LGBTI counterparts” concluded Nicky Bath.

The Alliance looks forward to continuing to work with the federal government to ensure that the Bill strikes the right balance in providing fair and balanced protections from discrimination for all people. This includes protecting the right of LGBTI people to access welcoming, equitable and inclusive healthcare, free from discrimination in an effort to improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Click here to read our submission on the exposure draft of the federal Religious Discrimination Bill

Media Contact:  Nicky Bath, Executive Director
Mobile: 0432 328 706 │ Email: Nicky.bath@lgbtihealth.org.au

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