Labour Law Seminar Series `Being` versus `doing` – what is really

Wednesday 22 April 2015 5.30 – 6.30 pm followed by light refreshments
Associate Professor Belinda Smith Sydney Law School
Fellows Road Theatre 1 ANU College of Law, Building 6A, Fellows Rd,
The Australian National University
In the first claim of sexual orientation discrimination under
the Sex Discrimination Act to be decided by a court
(Bunning v Centacare [2015] FCCA 280) the judge said
the Act protects ‘the state of being’ but it ‘does not cover
behaviours’. Does this mean that I am allowed to be gay,
so long as I don’t act gay? Or, by analogy, I am allowed to
have family responsibilities, but am not entitled to fulfil those
responsibilities? The judge’s approach reflects the High Court
jurisprudence, but how did we arrive at such a narrow and
meaningless understanding of discrimination (and equality) in
our law? And what does this approach mean for the scope of
protections in the Fair Work Act 2009 against adverse action?
The case of Victoria v Grant [2014] FCAFC 184 can help
us to understand how limiting this approach is: the state of
depression might be protected, but not acting depressed?
Belinda Smith is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Sydney. Her main field
of research is anti-discrimination laws, with a focus on gender equality and workers with family
responsibilities. In articles and chapters published in Australia, the United States and Japan she
has explored alternative regulatory tools and frameworks for promoting equality. She has worked
extensively on promoting reform of Australian anti-discrimination laws, served on the board of the
Disability Discrimination Legal Centre NSW and is a member of the editorial board of the Australian
Journal of Labour Law.
The views expressed in this seminar are those of the presenter and do not necessarily represent the
views of The Australian National University.
Presented by
Australian Labour Law
Australian Labour and
Employment Relations
Association of the ACT
RSVP online by Monday 20 April at
ANU College of
T 02 6125 1096
This lecture is free and open to the public
Labour Law Seminar Series
‘Being’ versus ‘doing’ – what is really protected
under anti-discrimination laws?