Sexuality Discrimination

In the ACT it is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of a characteristic that you have, or that someone thinks you have, in an area of public life such as employment, education, accommodation, provision of goods and services, clubs.

It is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of your sexual orientation – including if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual.

Example of sexuality discrimination.

James booked a bed and breakfast room for himself and his partner Alistair while they were on holiday. When they arrived, the proprietor told them they couldn’t stay, and that they wouldn’t have accepted the booking if they’d known it was for two men.

Sally advised her workplace that her partner Sarah was having surgery, and she would need some time off to help her with her recovery. Her employer said she could not access carer’s leave or personal leave to care for Sarah because ‘it’s only for married couples’.

Maisie and her partner Samantha were denied a family ticket to an event in the ACT because the ticket-seller did not accept that they and their children counted as a family for the purposes of the ticket.

Are there any exceptions?

It is not unlawful to take special measures to help groups or individuals who are disadvantaged or have been unfairly treated and need support to fully enjoy their human rights. For example, some groups experience greater social and economic disadvantage than other groups in society and may therefore require special assistance to enjoy their rights to the same level that other Australians enjoy those rights.

A service established to provide community support to specifically to lesbian, gay and bisexual young people may be an example of a special measure which is not unlawful discrimination.

The law also contains specific exceptions making it lawful to discriminate in some circumstances.

Examples where discrimination on the grounds of sexuality is not unlawful in the ACT include:

  • Carrying out an act that is necessary to comply with a Territory law or court order,
  • The availability of membership or the services of a voluntary association, or
  • Appointing members of religious orders, such as priests or ministers.

What is vilification?

It is also against the law to vilify a person or group of people on the grounds of sexuality. Vilification means to publicly incite hatred towards a person or group of people which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate that person or group of people.

Some examples might include:

  • distributing pamphlets to the public ridiculing a person’s sexuality,
  • wearing clothing with messages that denigrates a person’s sexuality, or
  • insulting or inciting hatred against people because of their sexuality by a speech at a public rally,

Vilification only extends to acts done ‘in public’ and does not include acts ‘done reasonably in good faith’.


To find out more or make a complaint.

For more information or to make a complaint about discrimination, vilification, sexual harassment or victimisation you can contact us by:

We can provide information about the complaint process or refer you to someone who can help you further. We provide free interpreting should you need it.