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Thematic Issue: Life Sciences: Ethics, Innovation and the Future of Law

The Spectacle of Respectable Equality: Queer Discrimination in Australian Law Post Marriage Equality


Emma Genovese

This article explores Australian legislation and policy since marriage equality to emphasise the pattern of prejudice that persists against the queer community through the theory of spectacles of ‘respectable equality’. Spectacles of respectable equality describe theatrical legislation or policy that is qualified by heterosexual privilege and produces a faux imitation of equality. In demonstrating that this pattern amounts to discrimination against the queer community, this article explores direct and indirect forms of discrimination. Direct discrimination is scrutinised through an assessment of blood donation policy and birth certificate legislation. Indirect discrimination is considered through an analysis of gender-neutral legislative drafting policies in the Victorian and Commonwealth jurisdictions, and Australian interpretative legislation. Ultimately, this article identifies examples of spectacles of respectable equality to demonstrate how discrimination against the queer community is not a disparate issue, but a connected pattern that must be broken.

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(2023) 46(2) UNSWLJ 650: