Trans community responds to proposed Marriage Equality Bill
The nation’s gay and lesbian community may be rejoicing at the ACT’s introduction of the Marriage Equality Bill into the ACT Legislative Assembly, but the country’s intersex, transgender and gender diverse communities are asking where is their legislation?
Progress on reforms for intersex and transgender people has been slow moving – despite progress earlier this year in areas of sex discrimination and Medicare reform. Peter Hyndal, executive director of A Gender Agender says while the Marriage Equality Bill is an important milestone for lesbian, gay and bisexual members of the community, it highlights the slow progress of intersex, transgender and gender diverse reform.
“The intersex and gender diverse population in Canberra still experiences exceptionally high rates of discrimination, unemployment and social marginalisation, as well as poor health outcomes and low rates of engagement with mainstream support services. These are issues that have a profoundly negative effect on people’s lives and need urgent attention at both an ACT and Commonwealth level.”
Hyndal is particularly concerned with the inequities in the law when it comes to the human rights of transgender and intersex people.
“Currently the ACT Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 (BDMR Act) requires a person to undergo unnecessary surgical sterilisation before they can change the record of their sex”, says Hyndal.
In 2010 the ACT Human Rights Commissioner advised the Attorney General the conditions imposed in the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act was “inequitable and undermines dignity” and “imposes unjustifiable limitations on the human rights protected under the HR Act”.
Following this, the Law Reform Advisory Council delivered a report on the legal recognition of sex and gender diversity in the ACT. The results of the report were delivered in 2012 whereupon the ACT Government expressed its support for a variety of amendments to improve the situation of sex and gender diverse people in the ACT.
Hyndal says the government has yet to act on these amendments.
“The government’s progress in the area of same-sex marriage and relative inactivity on the issue of the rights of sex and gender diverse people is very disappointing”.
On Spetember 13 ACT chief minister Katy Gallagher confirmed she will also introduce the Births, Deaths and Marriages (Transgender) Amendment Bill to the Legislative Assembly in the Spring sitting.
“The bill will create full recognition and equality before the law for transgender Canberrans, and provide the right to privacy and reputation,” said Gallagher.