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Norrie case on gender definition beyond male and female comes before High Court

Norrie case on gender definition beyond male and female comes before High Court

LAST UPDATED // Tuesday, 04 March 2014 09:46 Written by // Cec Busby

A High Court case which may decide the future of recognition for gender diverse and intersex people will hear from gender diverse advocacy group A Gender Agenda today.

The case, 'NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v Norrie' is deciding whether sex can extend beyond the categories of male and female.

The Human Rights Law Centre is assisting A Gender Agenda (AGA), in its application to intervene as a "friend of the Court". HRLC’s Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation, Anna Brown, is representing AGA in their application.

Brown said gender diverse and intersex people are entitled to equal recognition before the law and that recognition starts with identity documents that confirm their self-determined gender identity.

"It's important that our laws accurately reflect the reality of sex and gender diversity that exists in our society, so that gender diverse and intersex people can be afforded the same dignity of recognition that the majority of Australians enjoy,” said Brown.

The NSW Registrar is appealing the decision of the NSW Court of Appeal that allowed Norrie, an androgynous person, to be recognised as a sex other than male or female. Norrie had sought to be identified as “non-specific” rather than “male” or “female” on her* identity documents.

A Gender Agenda is intervening in the case to represent the broader group of gender diverse and intersex people as the outcome of the case will have precedent and affect the intersex and transgender community.

"We support Norrie's quest for recognition but many other people, in difference circumstances to Norrie, will also be impacted by this decision and we wanted to ensure their voices are heard," said Samuel Rutherford, Executive Director of AGA told SX.

“There is a risk, for example, that intersex people could be automatically assigned to a third category of sex, which would have the potential to further marginalise and stigmatise already vulnerable people,” added Rutherford.

“There is generally a high level of misinformation and misunderstanding about these issues and we hope that the information we put before the Court is useful in clarifying terminology and the interests of gender diverse and intersex people,” Rutherford said.

Currently there is a Bill before ACT parliament that will deliver reforms for intersex and gender divers people to remove discrimination on the basis of gender identity and reform ACT births, deaths and marriages laws.

"The ACT Government has tabled a Bill that will set a new benchmark in terms of recognition of sex and gender diverse people, providing for a third category of sex or gender and removing the requirement that sex re-assignment surgery must be performed. Other States, including NSW, are moving more slowly so it's not surprising that Norrie has taken her battle for recognition to the Courts," said Rutherford.

The hearing will commence in Canberra at 10:15am on Tuesday 4 March 2014.


Cec Busby

Cec Busby

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

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