What laws protect breastfeeding mothers and how do they work?
The Equal Status Act (2000) protects people from discrimination and harassment (including sexual harassment) in the use of and access to a wide range of services including shops and restaurants. Protection for mothers breastfeeding in public is provided under two of the nine discriminatory grounds covered by the Act:
The Gender and Family Status grounds
This Act helps mothers to breastfeed comfortably in public places by protecting them from being discriminated against or harassed because they are breastfeeding. (Discrimination is less favourable treatment, for example, asking someone to leave a premises because they are breastfeeding.)
The Intoxicating Liquor Act (2003) – Section 19 protects against discrimination occurring in a public house and provides access to the District Court for redress. Harassment is unwanted conduct (of a sexual nature in the case of sexual harassment) related to any of the discriminatory grounds covered by the Equal Status Act which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person, in this case a breastfeeding mother.