Last Updated 14 June 2017

In Queensland, the law relating to discrimination and human rights is contained in six pieces of state and federal legislation:

The Australian Human Rights Commission administers the Commonwealth laws listed, and the Anti-discrimination Commission Queensland administers the Anti-discrimination Act.

There is a significant overlap in the jurisdiction of both state and Commonwealth laws, and complainants will be faced with a choice of whether to proceed under the state or the Commonwealth laws.

In most cases, the greater flexibility of the state laws and the wider range of grounds (known under the Anti-discrimination Act as attributes), together with the enforceability of conciliation agreements and decisions of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) means that it will be better to proceed under the Anti-discrimination Act, however, legal advice is recommended. There are some areas where the Anti-discrimination Act has exclusive application, for example it prohibits discrimination and vilification against persons on the basis of religious belief and religious activity.

People who are not covered by the Anti-discrimination Act, for example Commonwealth Government employees or people who are complaining about the actions of a Commonwealth Government agency, must proceed under Commonwealth laws. This can lead to gaps in protection afforded to people such as a complaint of discrimination by a Commonwealth authority on the basis of religious belief.

Purpose and structure

As outlined in s 6 of the Anti-discrimination Act, the purpose and structure of the Act promote equal opportunity by protecting people from unfair discrimination. The Act also prohibits direct and indirect discrimination on various grounds in certain areas of activity (ss 12–116).

Complaints must be made and dealt with in the ways set out in the Anti-discrimination Act (ss 134–210), which contains a number of offence provisions (ss 219–226A).