Debate resumed from 7 June.
The Hon. ELAINE NILE [4.41 p.m.]: I wish to conclude my second reading speech on the Anti-Discrimination (Heterosexual Discrimination) Amendment Bill. I remind members that the object of the bill is to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 to make it unlawful for persons to discriminate against others on the ground of their heterosexuality. The bill inserts provisions that will parallel the existing provisions of the Act dealing with discrimination on the ground of homosexuality. The bill was introduced in response to the report of the Anti-Discrimination Board that stated that the board has no power to investigate the complaints of heterosexual discrimination it has received. The Australian of 18 January 1994 reported the Executive Director of the Law Reform Commission as saying:
The bill was introduced in response to that statement. The Anti-Discrimination Board has powers to investigate extremely wide categories of discrimination based on race, age, ethno-nationality—such as those of Jewish faith—HIV-AIDS, homosexuality, and marital status, against married women, single women, pregnant women, transvestites, and many other groups.
Under present legislation, discrimination against homosexuals, as well as several other minorities, is prohibited in NSW. But there is no provision to ban discrimination against heterosexuals.
The executive director of the commission, Mr Peter Hennessy, said yesterday discrimination against heterosexuals would be examined in the commission's two-year review of the Act.
It is amazing that 98 per cent of the heterosexual population of New South Wales is excluded from the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act. If members vote against this bill, they will be saying it is all right to discriminate against heterosexuals. Members may not be affected by such discrimination, but if they vote against the bill, they will be saying that heterosexuals have no human rights. The bill must be passed by this House to ensure that the Anti-Discrimination Act can be a fair, just measure that treats all citizens equally before the law. We cannot allow the Anti-Discrimination Act to treat heterosexuals as second-class citizens. We must take urgent action to protect citizens who are heterosexuals from discrimination in employment, education, accommodation, and other aspects of life.
I ask members to seriously consider the bill. This is a very significant issue; it is not a joke. In 1994 a member of the Australian women's cricket squad, Denise Annetts, claimed in an ABC television report that she was not selected to play in the national team touring New Zealand because of her sexuality. That was a great shame. As the Executive Director of the Law Reform Commission said in 1994, discrimination against heterosexuals would be examined in the commission's two-year review of the Act. I urge honourable members to vote for the bill, to ensure recognition of the heterosexual community.
Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. James Samios.