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Spouse or partner's identity

Spouse or partner's identity discrimination is treating people unfairly because of who their spouse or domestic partner is. It also covers ex-spouses and ex-partners.

This is different from marital status discrimination. A person treated unfairly because they are divorced or because they are living in a same-sex relationship experiences discrimination on the ground of marital status. A person treated unfairly because their spouse or partner is unpopular experiences discrimination on the ground of their spouse's identity.


Lewis, a financial adviser, was convicted of a fraud in which many clients lost their savings. Media articles about the crime also identified his family. Soon afterwards, Lewis' wife Leanne was asked to resign from the board of their children's private school because the school was concerned that her membership could affect its good name. Leanne could claim she was discriminated against on the basis of her spouse's identity.

There are some situations where it is lawful to take account of who a person's spouse is. Sometimes it is reasonable or necessary to treat the person differently - to preserve confidentiality, to avoid a conflict of interest, to avoid nepotism or to protect anyone's health or safety.

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