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Sex Discrimination Act 1984

Sex Discrimination Act

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (SDA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their sex, gender identity, intersex status, sexual orientation, marital or relationship status, family responsibilities, because they are pregnant or might become pregnant or because they are breastfeeding.

The SDA protects people against discrimination in many areas of public life including employment, education, getting or using services or renting or buying a house or unit. There are some limited exemptions. In addition, the Act allows special measures, or ‘positive discrimination’, that improve equality of opportunity for people based on their sex.

The SDA gives effect to Australia’s international human rights obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and promotes equality between women and men. Australia has made significant progress towards achieving gender equality in recent times. However, women still experience inequality and discrimination in many important parts of their lives. At work, women continue to face a gender ‘pay gap’ and barriers to leadership roles. Many encounter reduced employment opportunities because of the time they give to family and caring responsibilities. Sexual harassment and gender-based violence also threaten women’s basic right to feel safe and respected at work, in public, in places of study and at home.