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Community responds to Norrie ruling
Apr03

Community responds to Norrie ruling

LAST UPDATED // Thursday, 03 April 2014 14:54 Written by // Cec Busby

The LGBTI community and human rights advocates have welcomed the High Court ruling on the NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v Norrie case, which has allowed a person’s gender status to be recognised as ‘non specific’.

The case was brought by Sydney resident Norrie May Welby, who after undergoing gender reassignment surgery in the 80s, now identifies as neither male or female and wanted to be registered as a non specific sex.

The High Court has ruled in favour of Norrie who wished to be identified as a non-specified sex on registry documents.

Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson welcomed the decision saying it was particularly important for intersex and transgender Australians.

"While the decision may appear to only impact a small number of Australians, it affirms a broader universal principle that it is relevant to everyone: we should all be recognised under the law equally," Wilson said.

"This decision is particularly important for transgender and intersex Australians. They face unique challenges and it is important that the government does not add to the load and discriminate."

Organisation Intersex International, who had been watching the case closely due to implications for Australia’s intersex community, have also commended the High Court’s decision, in particular for including a Judgement Summary that seems to recognise the diversity of intersex people.

"It appears from the Judgement Summary that the High Court has recognised diversity in intersex people, and has chosen the neutral term, “non-specific” to describe Norrie’s gender. We are greatly relieved by this welcome decision," OII said in a media statement. "We welcome this assessment. We hope that the media will respect the difference between intersex and transgender, and acknowledge Norrie’s gender classification as “non-specific”.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation, Anna Brown, said the High Court ruling was of profound importance, given that identity documents such as birth certificates were an important foundation for ensuring equal recognition before the law for gender diverse and intersex people.

“Sex and gender diverse people face problems every day accessing services and facilities that most Australians can use without thinking twice. It’s essential that our legal systems accurately reflect and accommodate the reality of sex and gender diversity that exists in our society, and the High Court has taken an enormous leap today in achieving that goal,” said Brown.

The Executive Director of A Gender Agenda (AGA), Samuel Rutherford, said the High Court’s decision recognising that “transgender” and “intersex” were not appropriate categories was a relief for gender diverse and intersex people.

“This a fantastic decision for gender diverse and intersex people, who simply want to be recognised for who they are. The High Court has also recognised it would be inappropriate for a third category to be labelled “intersex, which means they understood that intersex people often identify as male or female," said Rutherford.

Marriage equality advocates have also welcomed the ruling saying the High Court decision highlights the need for marriage to be between two people regardless of gender or sex.

Australian Marriage Equality deputy director, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, said,"As well as being an important step forward for Australians whose identity lies beyond the traditional gender and sex binary, today's High Court decision reinforces AME's commitment to ensuring all adult Australians have the choice to marry regardless of gender, sex or sexual orientation."

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Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and GayNewsNetwork.com.au.

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