Rather than closing, even though i'm twitching reading this, can we please refrain from personal attacks and just continue with the thread in it's original spirit.
A few interesting facts from the Australian Breastfeeding Association Website that I thought would be useful to copy/paste in this discussion to clear up some serious confusion:
Breastfeeding in public - your legal rights
Breastfeeding your baby is a normal and natural thing to do. Babies have a right to be breastfed and mothers have the right to breastfeed. Most mothers work out where and how they can feed their babies when they are out, so that they are comfortable. In our society however, although breastfeeding is acknowledged as important for mothers and babies, some people make critical remarks or confront mothers with unnecessary and illegal 'rules'.
What is the law?
In Australian Federal Law breastfeeding is a right, not a privilege.
Under the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 it is illegal in Australia to discriminate against a person either directly or indirectly on the grounds of breastfeeding. Direct discrimination happens when a person treats someone less favourably than another person. For example, it is discriminatory for a waiter to decline to serve a patron who is breastfeeding. Indirect discrimination happens when an apparently neutral condition has the effect of disadvantaging a particular group, in this case women who are breastfeeding. For example, an employer may impose a requirement on all employees that they must not make any breaks for set periods during the day under any circumstances. Such a condition would particularly disadvantage women who need to express milk.
Australian Capital Territory
Breastfeeding is a protected attribute. Discrimination on the basis of breastfeeding is illegal in the areas of: provision of goods and services, accommodation, financial services, employment, sport, education, access to premises, access to membership in a trade or professional organisation, membership of or services in a licensed club, business partnerships, requests for information and unlawful advertising.
New South Wales
Discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sex is illegal in the contexts of: opportunities in employment, state education, goods and services, accommodation and registered clubs. This includes breastfeeding as a characteristic generally appertaining to women.
Breastfeeding is a protected attribute. Discrimination or harassment on the basis of breastfeeding is illegal in the areas of education, work, accommodation, goods, services and facilities, clubs, insurance and superannuation. For protected attributes it is also illegal to fail to make reasonable accommodation for a person's special needs.
Breastfeeding is a protected attribute. Discrimination on the basis of breastfeeding is explicitly illegal in all areas of public life.
It is illegal to discriminate against someone in the areas of accommodation, customer service and education because of their association with a child, which includes breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a protected attribute. Discrimination or 'prohibited conduct' is illegal on the basis of breastfeeding in the areas of: education, employment, provision of goods, facilities and services, clubs, state laws and programs, awards and industrial agreements. 'Prohibited conduct' is any conduct that offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules a reasonable person on basis of a protected attribute.
Breastfeeding is a protected attribute. Discrimination on the basis of breastfeeding is illegal in the areas of: accommodation, clubs, education, employment, goods and services, selling and transferring land, and sport.
Discrimination on the on the grounds of sex, pregnancy and marital status is illegal in the contexts of: employment, education, access to places and vehicles, provision of goods, services and facilities, accommodation, disposal of land, clubs, application forms, advertisements, insurance (in some instances) and sport (in some instances). This includes breastfeeding as a characteristic generally appertaining to women. An amendment to prohibit discrimination against mothers breastfeeding in a public place was passed on 25 March 2010.
A hungry baby shouldn't be expected to wait. No mother can be forced to ignore the needs of her baby.
Q.Can I breastfeed wherever I am if my baby is hungry?
A.Yes. A mother has the right to breastfeed her baby wherever she happens to be. This right is legally supported through the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. The requirements of a baby are different to those of an adult, and all mothers have the right to meet their baby's needs. A hungry baby shouldn't be expected to wait, and no mother can be forced to ignore the needs of her baby.
Q.When out and about can someone tell me to stop breastfeeding?
A.Yes and No. In Australia, for example, if a person is telling you to stop breastfeeding resulting in them denying you a service because you are breastfeeding then this is classed as discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. The Act makes it illegal to discriminate in the provision of goods and services, accommodation, financial services, employment, sport or education. Outside the provisions of the Act it is dependant on the 'harassment' or 'prohibited conduct' law in your state or territory which may make this illegal in certain circumstances. Outside these circumstances there is no law against a member of the public telling you to stop breastfeeding. Regardless there is no law to say that a mother cannot breastfeed. So even though they may be able to tell you not to breastfeed, you have the right to continue breastfeeding.
Q.Can I breastfeed in a shop or restaurant?
A.Yes. You can breastfeed while you are a customer or using a service. This is a mother's right and is legally supported through the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
Q.If a Baby Care Room is near, do I have to breastfeed in the room?
A.No. Baby Care Rooms are provided as a service only. Do not feel pressured to breastfeed in one if you do not wish to. Some mums are very glad of the privacy that a Baby Care Room offers them, but other mums prefer to breastfeed wherever they happen to be. By breastfeeding out and about these mums are also helping the next generation of Australians to learn that breastfeeding is normal.
Q.What if there is a sign saying 'NO FOOD or DRINK ALLOWED'. Can I still breastfeed?
A.Yes. This sign is not relevant to a baby who is breastfeeding. Again, common sense will be helpful in this situation. Look at why this sign may apply. If it is just to keep the area clean, you can breastfeed. However, if it is because there are chemicals present or some type of hazard, then it may not be an appropriate area to breastfeed in.
Q.I am expressing breastmilk for my baby? Do I have the same anti-discrimination rights to express as a woman who is breastfeeding?
A.Yes. Your rights to express are also protected under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
Remember breastfeeding is a mother's right. She has the right to feed her baby at her breast, or express breastmilk for her baby. As an added bonus breastfeeding is natural, normal, environmentally-friendly, affordable and healthy for all of humanity.
I think the publicity that this issue has generated over the past few days has been really great to get people to confront their own perceptions of what is appropriate and what breasts actually for, and I'm extremely glad that we, as a society, are starting to move away from the narrow minded perception of breasts. But, i can understand that it will take some time (and probably a lot more work like that done by the people attending the nurse-in), before we can really get rid of that ingrained idea that breasts are primarily sexual.
Meg2, what an excellent comment about discomfort and social conditioning. While I am wholeheartedly in support of public, cover-less, unannounced breastfeeding, where my baby's need to feed comes first, it can't be ignored that some people, for the reasons you outlined, do feel uncomfortable seeing breasts exposed. Yes they need to examine why that is and accept the naturalness of breastfeeding, but their discomfort is sometimes a result of socialisation and cultural conditioning.
Eta: I also don't believe the bf-ing mother has to change HER behaviour to accommodate this discomfort!!
Last edited by TreeGirl; 24-01-2013 at 11:08.
Of course there are social reasons as to why some are uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public. There are loads of things that some people are uncomfortable with that are perfectly legal. They still have no right to ask that person to stop their behaviour if they are protected by law. One example I thought of to compare is homosexual couples in public. My ex boss was hugely homophobic, and seeing two men or two women holding hands or kissing in public...we never heard the end of it. But they are doing nothing wrong at all My boss would have been in the wrong if he harassed them!
If breastfeeding women hide away, and cave in to a loud minority who think they beling behind closed doors things will never change. The campaign has been great to outline the legalities and social implications of asking women feeding their babies to cover up or move.
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