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Public statement: Sex characteristics now a protected attribute in the Equal Opportunity Act

26 October 2021

To better protect from discrimination, sex characteristics has now been added to the Equal Opportunity Act.

Sex characteristic discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly or bullied because of their physical features related to their sex. This type of discrimination is experienced by people born with variations in sex characteristics – people with intersex variations.

A person with an intersex variation is born with atypical natural variations to sex characteristics such as variations in chromosomes, hormones or anatomy. Intersex traits are a natural part of human bodily diversity.

Sex characteristics include:

  • genitalia and other sexual and reproductive parts
  • chromosomes, genes, hormones, and secondary physical features that emerge as a result of puberty.

Before 26 October 2021, sex characteristics was not a protected attribute. Other protections, such as the previous definition of gender identity which referred to a ‘person of indeterminate sex’ identifying as a ‘member of a particular sex’ were inappropriate because gender identity and intersex status are not the same.

Read more about sex characteristic discrimination.

Two definitions in the Equal Opportunity Act will also be updated to better reflect the lives and experiences of all Victorians:

Gender identity

“gender identity means a person’s gender-related identity, which may or may not correspond with their designated sex at birth, and includes the personal sense of the body (whether this involves medical intervention or not) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech, mannerisms, names and personal references;”

Sexual orientation

“sexual orientation means a person’s emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, or intimate or sexual relations with, persons of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender;”

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Address
Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

General enquiries
enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Reception
1300 891 848

Enquiry line
1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

Interpreters
1300 152 494

NRS Voice Relay
1300 555 727 then use 1300 292 153

Media enquiries
0447 526 642

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and deep connection to the land.

We acknowledge that the Commission is on the land of the Kulin Nation and pay our respects to Elders past and present.