Indirect discrimination, sexual orientation and gender orientation


Indirect discrimination is where certain practices, rules or policies place you at a disadvantage as compared to someone of a different sexual or gender orientation. An example is where a hospital may offer free resources to husbands and wives, but these free resources aren’t offered to same-sex couples in a civil union (civil partnership) or those in a same-sex marriage.

What can I do about indirect discrimination?

When experiencing indirect discrimination it’s important to try and work out why the different practice, rule or policy exists. There may be good reasons for these different practices, rules or policies. However, if there isn’t any clear reason for the difference then you may be experiencing indirect discrimination.

Plus, if there is a clear reason for their rule, practice or policy, but you can provide alternative evidence or solutions to overcome these problems, and the service still doesn’t provide the service, then you may be experiencing indirect discrimination.

What happens if there are reasons for the difference?

Indirect discrimination doesn’t take place when there is a legitimate (genuine) reason for this different practice, policy or rule. If there is a legitimate reason then it isn’t discrimination. However, if there is no legitimate reason then it may be that you are experiencing indirect discrimination.

If you think you are experiencing indirect discrimination then work out the reasons for the difference. This is important. You can do this by asking questions and persisting until you receive clear answers.

Try and work out what is informing the answers they have given you. If the reasons seem unusual, illogical or not supported by evidence, then at that stage, it may be helpful to ask the individual to put their answer and the reasons for their answer in writing.

Having their answers written down can help clarify the issues. It may help you to understand their perspective. It may also help you later if you decide to pursue the matter with a third party in order to resolve the matter.

If there are no legitimate reasons for the different practice, rule or policy then potentially you can work with the professional or service to address this. If you try and continue to work with the professional or service and you can’t find a resolution then approach your local assistance or advocacy service.

If that doesn’t help, you may wish to seek legal advice or the help of a mediation service. If you still think you might be able to work with the service to address the issues, then consider approaching the director of the organization. Alternatively, you can approach the regulatory body that licenses and monitors the clinic, hospital, school or organization.

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