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Sex Discrimination Act

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 came after Australia signed the United Nations' International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

This Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against people because of their:

  • sex - male or female
  • intersex status
  • gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • marital or relationship status - whether a person is single, married, widowed, divorced, separated or living in a de facto relationship
  • pregnancy or potential pregnancy
  • family responsibilities - an employee's duty to care for or support a dependent child or immediate family member (only in dismissal cases).

The Sex Discrimination Act also makes sexual harassment unlawful.

Sexual harassment is sexual behaviour which makes a person, with reason feel offended, afraid or humiliated.

Sexual harassment complaints under the federal Sex Discrimination Act cannot be made against people working in the South Australian public service. Men who do not work for trading corporations, for example partnerships or sole traders, cannot make sex discrimination claims under the Sex Discrimination Act. In these cases, complaints should be made under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA).

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