Australia to amend law in wake of sexual harassment report, scandals

Sydney, Australia, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- The Australian government announced Thursday that it will amend its sex discrimination law to include politicians and judges, coming after a series of scandals in parliament.

MPs, judges and state public servants, who are currently exempt from the Sex Discrimination Act, “will be subject to the same law as anybody else, which means we’ll be subject to the same consequences,” Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said, explaining the legislative proposal changes on workplace sexual harassment.

The amendments, which will be tabled in parliament this year, are part of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s governmental response to 55 recommendations put forward in the Respect at Work report it received in January.

The government’s announcement comes weeks after a political scandal that erupted in mid-February when Brittany Higgins, a former adviser to Morrison’s party, reported that she was raped in 2019 by a colleague in an office in Parliament House.

In addition to three other complaints against the same man, another was raised against the then-attorney general Christian Porter, now Minister of Industry, for an alleged violation of more than 30 years ago, which he denies and that the Police closed due to lack of evidence after the death in 2020 of the alleged victim.

Morrison, who rebuilt his Cabinet at the end of March after the scandal, said that the report is “a roadmap for respect” and about “creating a culture of respectful behavior in Australian workplaces.”

According to data from the Australian Human Rights Commission, 39 percent of women and 26 percent of men have suffered workplace sexual harassment, conduct that the Australian leader called “immoral and despicable and even criminal.” EFE-EPA


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