health first

Invitation to urgent community forum on non-discriminatory access to health, education, employment and services in the NT

Rainbow Territory writes to inform you of proposed legislation developed by the federal government and to invite you to an important forum about its impact.

The current draft of this law, the Religious Discrimination Bill 2019, puts at risk non-discriminatory access to health care, education, employment and services. 

NT law can be overridden by Commonwealth law, and this bill in particular seeks to override state and territory laws.

Rainbow Territory is particularly concerned about the impact on the provision of healthcare. Advances in health have enabled people to control their own reproductive health and have helped turn the tide on HIV in Australia. These advances should remain accessible to all.

Rainbow Territory has organised a community meeting about the proposed law and invite you and your networks to attend, details are:

  • When: 5:30-7pm, Tuesday 29 October 2019
  • Speakers:
    • NT Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Sally Sievers, on the impact of the current bill on laws in the NT
    • Australian Medical Association NT (AMA NT) President Dr Robert Parker. AMA NT represents the medical practitioners and medical students in the NT, and will be speaking about the impact the proposed Bill will have on people living in the NT and their access to healthcare.
  • Where: Uniting Church Hall, 78 Smith St, Darwin (beside Woolworths)
  • RSVP/information: OR Facebook/rainbowterritory
  • facebook event:

Rainbow Territory has reviewed a number of the submissions to the review of the draft exposure bill. We support protection from discrimination based on religious belief, but we share the concerns of many others that the proposed laws in their current form privilege one attribute – the holding of a religious belief – over other attributes such as disability, gender, sexual orientation.

More details see Rainbow Territory key concerns below.

Access to health

How the laws can override state and territory laws

Workplace bullying

Proposed legislation (exposure draft)

Rainbow Territory key concerns 

Please note, below are the views of Rainbow Territory only and not the views of speakers at the community forum

Care has been taken to ensure the information below is accurate, however it does not cover all aspects of the bill. We have relied on and paraphrased the submissions of other organisations and individuals and encourage you to seek these out. 

Access to health care

The current draft of the legislation would allow health professionals to object to providing healthcare on religious grounds.

Rainbow Territory is concerned the proposed law could allow

  • refusing to supply contraception
  • refusing to supply HIV treatment and prevention medication
  • refusing to supply hormone treatments to transgender people
  • refusing to supply IVF services to a same sex couple
  • refusing to provide midwifery health care to a single mother or lesbian couple
  • refusing to supply termination of pregnancy and not referring the patient to another provider
    • conscientious objection is permitted under NT law in this area, but the patient must be referred to another health care provider who does not have a conscientious objection.

The legislation in its current form could have considerable impact for Territorians as there are limited options in accessing health care compared to other places in Australia. For example, there are only three pharmacies in Katherine, and even less in remote communities.

While the impact of the legislation will not be known until it is implemented, we have developed case studies to demonstrate how the laws may work in practice.

Case study: a young woman in Katherine is prescribed the pill and goes to one of the pharmacies in Katherine. She is refused the script as the pharmacist does not support contraception because of their religious beliefs. The young woman feels ashamed and doesn’t try again.

Case study: a young gay man in a remote community wants to access Prep, medication that prevents the transmission of HIV. The nurse who services the community considers homosexuality to be a sin, and tells the young man to abstain from sex instead of providing the medication.

Case study: a young woman in a remote community decides she wants to terminate a pregnancy. She goes to the locum doctor to ask for RU486. The doctor has a religious belief that opposes termination of pregnancy and refuses the request. The doctor can conscientiously object under NT law, but under the proposed federal law does not have to refer the woman to another provider.

Access to education

The current draft of the bill would allow a student to be excluded from a religious educational institution based on sexuality or gender identity.

Currently NT law does not permit a young person to be denied an education based on sexuality or gender identify. As we understand it the federal law can override Territory law.

There are approximately 40 or more religious educational institutions in the NT. They make up a considerable part of the education system in the Territory, including in remote communities/for residents of remote communities. We are concerned about the impact on access to education for young people.

Case study: a young person comes out at 16 while in the middle of their education at a religious school in the NT. The young person is expelled when the school learns they are in a same sex relationship with another student.

Access to employment

Rainbow Territory is concerned that the proposed federal law will entrench and expand discrimination in employment against Territorians, including women and lgbtqi people.

NT law currently permits discrimination based on sexuality in employment in a religious educational institution, and this law is under review by the NT government. Rainbow Territory is advocating for this law (s37A of the NT Anti-Discrimination Act) to be changed so that sexuality is not a grounds on which someone can be denied employment. 

We are concerned that the federal law will enable schools, and other bodies (including religious charities) to discriminate against people who are divorced, separated, in a de facto relationship, single parents, and people in same sex relationships or who identify as lgbtqi.

Case study: a recently divorced single mother applies for an administrative position at a local religious school. She is asked whether she is married at the interview. She tells the person conducting the interview that she is no longer married. Another applicant is married and is given the job as the school policy is that all staff are rolemodels and should live according to beliefs supported by the school.

Access to services

Rainbow Territory is concerned that the bill could allow religious charities and bodies who carry out work conducted in accordance with a particular religion to refuse service to people of a different faith, sexual orientation or marital status.

We are concerned service providers in the NT, many of whom are delivering services paid for by the government, will be able to discriminate based on their religious ethos or belief.

Your view on the NT Health lgbtqi+ strategic policy

What is happening?
Public servants/the government want to know what you think about a policy they have created about LGBTQI+ health.

What is a policy? A policy is a set of ideas or plans that is used as a basis for making decisions.

Your view is important because if you are LGBTQI+ then the policy may be used to make decisions about your health, or LGBTQI+ people’s health as a group. Like: how to improve our health, how to talk about LGBTQI+ people in a health document so we are understood, how to train staff in health to better engage with LGBTQI+ people.

You can give feedback in person or via email.

Face to face

Tue 3 Sept 2019 5:15-6:15pm, 38 Wood St Darwin

Tue 10 Sept 2019, 2:30-4pm, Natasha Fyles Electoral Office, Pavonia Place, Nightcliff (near Nightcliff 5 star supermarket)

Copy of the draft strategy is below. To give feedback on it via email please contact:


Government speak for what this is about:
NT Health, guided by a LGBTQI+ Advisory Group have been developing a new strategic policy to support and strengthen LGBTQI+ employees in the workplace and LGBTQI+ health service delivery.

The strategic policy is in draft form and we are now conducting consultations with consumers, assisted by LGBTQI+ advocacy groups and service providers.

Rainbow Territory media release 12 March 2019

12 March 2019 – MEDIA RELEASE – for immediate release

Rainbow Territory stands in solidarity with those who face discrimination in the NT and calls for Anti-Discrimination reforms to speed up following recent allegations of racial segregation in Alice Springs.

Following recent allegations of racial segregation in an Alice Springs hotel, Rainbow Territory calls on the NT Government to speed up promised reforms of the Anti-Discrimination Act. The group provided a submission to the government in January 2018, and they want a representative complaints process included in reforms.

“The recent exposure of alleged racial discrimination in Alice Springs uncovers the high levels of interpersonal and systemic discrimination experienced by Aboriginal people in the Territory.”

“A representative complaints model is a key part of a workable Anti-Discrimination Act, and a mature NT that addresses systemic discrimination.”

“Representative complaints allow for the protections that already exist to be enlivened, rather than be window dressing.”

“The case at the Ibis Styles Alice Springs Oasis shows how individuals can be discriminated against in the provision of accommodation services, and in this case, an individual may be powerless to make a complaint against a global hotel chain like Ibis.”

“Rather than just relying on individuals complaining to the Anti-Discrimination Commission, a representative complaints model better responds to the systemic nature of discrimination and allows complaints to be brought on
behalf of multiple people at once.”

“We want the Anti-Discrimination Commission to be able to act on issues where discrimination, victimisation, or vilification can impact a group of people collectively rather than a single individual, the Alice Springs example is a case in point.”

“Those who are most vulnerable to discrimination are often those least empowered in society, which reduces the likelihood of them pursuing individual complaints in situations where they have been discriminated against.”

“To ensure the complaints model is a robust one, processes should be designed to ensure that the representative body making the complaint truly advocates for the community it claims to represent.”

Rainbow Territory’s submission on the discussion paper to modernise the Anti-Discrimination Act (NT) can be found here.

Media comment: Jane Black, Rainbow Territory member

Formed in September 2014, Rainbow Territory is an unfunded Northern Territory community group that advocates for the human rights of Northern Territorians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (‘LGBTIQ’). Rainbow Territory aims to develop a safer, fairer and a more inclusive Northern Territory.

PDF version: MEDIA RELEASE Anti Discrimination Act NT_representative complaints 12 March 2019.docx

LGBTQI community open day

Rainbow Territory is inviting members of the LGBTQI community to join for a community open day. This event will bring together existing LGBTQI community groups and people new to town (and old to town!) who want to get involved and make things happen in their community in 2019. There will also be an ideas session for people who have an idea for a community initiative and want help to make it happen.

When: 1-4pm, Saturday 23 February 2019

Where: Untitled Gallery & Studio, Unit 3 Caryota Court, Coconut Grove (between Northside Health and Family Planning NT)

Cost: Free and all ages

Community groups interested in attending please contact Rainbow Territory

More information email Rainbow Territory: or check out Facebook

Statement by Rainbow Territory on religious freedom recommendation

10 October 2018

Rainbow Territory calls on Chief Minister Michael Gunner and NT Federal representatives to speak out strongly against possible increases in discrimination under the law against Territorians who are LGBTQI, or sexuality and gender questioning children and young people.

Rainbow Territory is deeply disturbed that a panel sanctioned by the federal government could recommend discriminating against children based on their sexuality or gender identity.

All schools in the NT must be places for children to learn in a safe environment, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity, or faith. This recommendation is totally out of touch with NT values.

Rainbow Territory strongly opposes the implementation of this recommendation:

any discrimination within any school based on a child’s sexuality or gender identity is a form of segregation under the guise of religious freedoms

there will be damage to the wellbeing and mental health of young people who attend religious educational institutions and who would be impacted by this recommendation

we are concerned that a law of this type could be extended, through federal legislation, to other groups that do not align to religious beliefs, such as children from unmarried, divorced, or single parent households

all of the religious educational institutions in the NT receive Federal and Territory government funding to operate (56% to 98% of their annual funding)

some young people in remote NT communities do not have another education option other than a religious educational institution. This will exclude young people who should be in school from gaining an education

the lack of support for young people in schools who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity will only be amplified if this recommendation becomes law

we already see discrimination in the NT for staff who work in religious institutions who can be hired or fired based on their sexuality whether they are a cleaner, gardener, science teacher or principal. We want to see this removed from the laws of the NT, not enshrined by federal law.

Rainbow Territory calls on Chief Minister Michael Gunner and NT Federal representatives to speak out strongly against possible increases in discrimination under the law against Territorians who are LGBTQI and sexuality and gender questioning children and young people.


Formed in September 2014, Rainbow Territory is an unfunded Northern Territory community group that advocate for the human rights of Northern Territorians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (‘LGBTQI’). Rainbow Territory aims to develop a safer, fairer and a more inclusive Northern Territory.

Facebook: rainbowterritory

Newsletter 23: Hello + how are you feeling

This is the twenty third newsletter from OUT NT.


This is a quick one, and its about health and diversity within the LGBTQI community.

There is a health needs assessment happening right now for the LGBTQI community. Basically the government is trying to figure out what health things our community uses currently or needs but doesn’t have access to. Have your say: link

Also this week, Ethnic LGBT+ is coming to Darwin. What is it? It is a project that “hopes to help other LGBT people of ethnic heritage navigate the cultural challenges they may face by being a member of the LGBT community”. Meet up details are below.

Did you know there is an LGBTQI group that has kicked off in Katherine? True story.

And finally, yes that is Cyndi Lauper up on top. No, she is not coming to Darwin, but the True Colours Chorus is performing as part of Darwin Pride, so it is almost like Queen/King Cyndi is here. More about Pride in next newsletter (early next week!).

Newsletter 23: Well done to young NT writer

Tiger-Lily Clements has taken out the top award in the Young Territory Author awards for her story about a same sex relationship. The central character of the story is working through her heartache over a relationship that has ended. A story we can all connect with. The work can (soon) be borrowed from the Casuarina Library. Well done Tiger-Lily, you look great in rainbow!

The awards are happening again next year, so if you have been inspired then get cracking.

Newsletter 23: Ethnic LGBT+ is visiting the NT

Dear Darwin LGBTIQ community, allies, supporters

My name is Mikhara and I would love to meet with you all. I would love to hear from members from all walks of life from the LGBTIQ community in Darwin.

The purpose of the meeting is to capture the stories, experiences and resources available to LGBTIQ people living in Darwin and surrounds. I run a national platform for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) LGBTIQ to share their stories and access support around the specific challenges they face. I believe stories save lives and know the power first hand of being able to see yourself in someone’s stories. I’d love to hear your stories.

When and where?
Mikhara will be at Roma Bar, Cavenagh St, this Thursday 13 September from 12-1:30pm, or you can meet up with Mikhara directly if this time or place does not suit, including if you are not in Darwin.

Contact details for Mikhara: | M (+61) 0424 044 247
Founder – Ethnic LGBT+ |