Gender identity discrimination claim rejected by QCAT

A claim of discrimination against Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) by a prisoner seeking transgender hormone therapy has been dismissed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

QCAT Senior Member Richard Oliver found last month that QCS, in refusing the request, had not treated the applicant less favourably than any other prisoner with a non-life-threatening diagnosed medical condition.

The refusal was based on QCS’s Transgender Offenders Procedure, which does not allow a prisoner to commence transgender hormone therapy in prison.

The applicant, Derek Sinden, also known as Thalia Sinden, contended that the QCS had contravened s.10 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 by not only refusing the treatment request, but also by failing to properly investigate the diagnosis and treatment of Gender Identity Disorder.

Senior Principal Lawyer in our Workplace Law Team Lara Hues, who instructed counsel on behalf of the  QCS, said that in his decision Mr Oliver stated that the evidence about what clinical assessments of Mr Sinden should have been undertaken only came to light with the gathering of expert evidence for the case.

“At the relevant time, the department had accepted and acted on the diagnosis which had been made.

“Mr Oliver’s decision accepted that it could not then be said that the applicant was discriminated against because of a failure to undertake further investigations into his condition when none was necessary on the basis of the medical evidence at the time,” Lara said.

She said that while QCAT found that the QCS did not discriminate against Sinden, it did note that if that decision were found to be wrong, QCAT would have ordered compensation of $20,000.

Crown Law’s Workplace Law Team specialises in anti-discrimination cases, as well as:

  • industrial relations
  • the Public Service Act 2008
  • workplace health and safety
  • workplace harassment
  • union coverage
  • misconduct, discipline and dismissals.

The information in this publication is provided for general purposes only. It is not to be relied on as a substitute for legal advice. Crown Law and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General accept no liability for losses caused by reliance on the material in this publication. Formal legal advice should be obtained for particular matters.

Published: 1 August 2012