Community leaders and rights advocates have condemned the Liberal National Coalition for their role in the defeat of legislation that was set to improve access to birth certificates for trans, gender diverse and intersex people.
Yesterday evening’s vote on the Victorian Births, Deaths & Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 (Vic) tied at 19 votes, with four cross-bench MPs and all present Liberal National members voting against the reform. Community leaders expressed their disappointment over the defeat and the misinformation and lack of understanding reflected in the parliamentary debate.
Brenda Appleton, Chair of Transgender Victoria said, “Trans and gender diverse people and their families are grieving this week as they face up to the lack of compassion and understanding shown by the Coalition, and the rejection of this profoundly important reform that would have simply allowed us to have our most basic identity document reflect who we are.”
“We stand ready to educate any member of parliament about the experiences and difficulties faced by trans and gender diverse people,” added Ms Appleton.
The Human Rights Law Centre have supported the campaign for reform, which would have allowed adults to change their gender marker through a simple administrative process without the need for medical treatment and allow children to change their certificate with the support of their parents and doctors.
Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy at the HRLC said, “This Bill represented a crucial step to improving the lives of trans, gender diverse and intersex Victorians and it was deeply disappointing to see the Liberal party fail to support them, particularly when so much of the debate reflected misunderstanding and lack of compassion for the discrimination and disadvantage faced in people’s day to day lives.”
Ms Brown urged Opposition leader Matthew Guy to be honest about the party’s position on transgender equality and the Coalition’s deteriorating record on LGBTIQ equality.
“At no stage did the Coalition Opposition show any kind of willingness to consider amendments to the bill, which points to the increased control of the Liberal party by the conservative right. This wasn’t about whether or not trans people can access basic identity documents but is part of an ongoing culture war fuelled by prejudice and fear,” added Ms Brown.
The lack of reform means that Victoria lags behind the federal government, the ACT and now South Australia, which allow gender markers to be changed without surgical intervention and allow for recognition outside the categories of male and female.
“We now have the ridiculous situation where trans people can access a passport and Medicare card that reflects who they are but they can’t change the sex on their birth certificate. This particularly impacts on young people in really important moments of their lives – like graduating from high school or starting their first job. We can only hope that the Liberal party in Victoria takes a leaf out of the book of their counterparts in South Australia and the Commonwealth and move towards acceptance and understanding,” said Ms Brown.
Community advocates urged parliamentarians to engage with the LGBTI community and educate themselves about trans, gender diverse and intersex people and support the future reforms.
"This Bill is fundamentally about the mental health and wellbeing of some very vulnerable people. We urge MPs to consider the research and facts and not play political games with people's lives," said Ms Appleton.
For media queries, contact:
Brenda Appleton, Chair, Transgender Victoria, 0404 480 416
Anna Brown, Director of Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre, 0422 235 522