More than 70 per cent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) have been attacked, bullied or harassed, a report by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) says.
The Resilient Individuals report gathered interviews with 1,500 gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex people from around Australia.
Human Rights commissioner Tim Wilson said most have been the victims of some sort of discrimination.
“This is a very significant report off the back of a nine-month consultation across Australia, looking specifically at the issues faced around ongoing discrimination through law and practice,” he said.
Mr Wilson said attitudes needed to change and called on state governments to amend state laws that are outdated and discriminatory.
“The problem with state-sanctioned discrimination is that it can then license discrimination in other realms of society,” he said.
“The Government has sent the message that it’s okay that people cannot enjoy the same rights and respect as everybody else.”
Mr Wilson called on the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia to legislate to expunge criminal records of historic consensual homosexual sex offences.
He also said Queensland and South Australia must abolish the “homosexual advance defence”.
“Somebody can use the fact that somebody who may be gay makes a sexual pass at them, as some sort of legitimise of them inflicting violence against a person,” he said.
The report said LGBTI Australians were more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression if they had been bullied or harassed.
The chief executive of mental health group BeyondBlue, Georgie Harman, said in some cases being discriminated against was a “life or death” issue for LGBTI people.
“We know that a major contributing factor to this risk of mental ill-health is discrimination, abuse, both physical and verbal, exclusion and prejudice,” she said.
“It happens everywhere that we live, work, play, study.”
In the workplace, two thirds of LGBTI Australians told the HRC they felt they could not tell their colleagues about their sexual orientation.
At a federal level, Mr Wilson said he also supported changes to the Marriage Act.
“I think there’s clearly a broad consensus there does need to be a change. I’m quite calm and relaxed about how we resolve this issue,” he said.
“I want to see change so that everybody is treated equally before the law, and I think there is a way we can achieve that.”