One year after Australia said ‘yes’, NT Government takes steps to progress LGBTI equality

One year after Australia said ‘yes’, NT Government takes steps to progress LGBTI equality

The NT Government has introduced new laws that will help heal the harm caused by discriminatory laws against LGBTI people.

NT’s expungement laws, which come into effect today, and the introduction of legislation to reform outdated birth certificate laws are two steps towards achieving justice and equality for all.

Removing past homosexual offences

Territorians who were convicted under unjust laws that criminalised homosexuality can, from today, apply to clear the conviction from their record.

The Expungement of Historical Homosexual Offence Records Act 2018 (NT) passed earlier this year, as part of the NT Government’s commitment to address the stigmatisation and discrimination people found guilty of outdated homosexual offences.

Lee Carnie, Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, emphasised the importance of having a simple process for people to clear these historic convictions.

"Sex between consenting adults should never have been a crime. Territorians who have had these historic and unjust criminal convictions hanging over their heads for decades can now finally clear their names. This is an important step towards achieving full equality and addressing the wrongs of the past," said Lee Carnie

All other states and territories have introduced similar schemes, except for Western Australia. The WA Government have passed a similar bill, but it has not yet come into effect.

Fairer birth certificate laws

A bill to remove discrimination against trans and gender diverse people under NT birth certificate laws, was also introduced today.

If passed, the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration and other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (NT) would mean married transgender people wouldn’t need to divorce their spouse in order to change the gender on their birth certificate.

"One year after Australians said 'yes' to marriage equality, it’s fantastic to see the Territory Government taking steps to remove discrimination that remains on the statute books. No one should have to choose between staying married to the person they love, or being legally recognised for who they are," said Lee Carnie.

All state and territory governments have removed this ‘forced divorce’ requirement except for Tasmania and Western Australia, where bills to address the issue are being debated in Parliament.

The bill would also remove the need for surgical sterilisation, allow parents of minors to apply and allow people to be recognised as 'non-binary'.

"A birth certificate is the first document a person has. It says who you are, and where you belong. When this important ID doesn't match your identity it creates daily problems. It’s time to remove these outdated and discriminatory barriers for trans and gender diverse Territorians," said Lee Carnie.

Rosalina Curtis’ story

Rosalina, a Central Islander Sistergirl from Alice Springs, intends to change her legal gender to female on her Northern Territory birth certificate.

"I’m so excited that I might soon be able to be recognised as who I am on my birth certificate. Everyone has a choice, and everyone makes their own decisions. I should be able to make my own decisions for my life," said Ms Curtis.

Watch Rosalina’s story here.

The Human Rights Law Centre has today welcomed key parts of the bill, but called for further amendments in its submission to provide self-determination for trans and gender diverse Territorians.

"The Bill removes key barriers to trans and gender diverse people accessing accurate identity documents, but falls short of best practice. Some amendments are needed to ensure NT birth certificate meet the needs of the community," said Lee Carnie 

"Self-determination is about all people being free to live their life and be recognised for who they are – without requiring medical proof of their identity."

Read the Human Rights Law Centre’s submission here.

More information on our #MyIDMyIdentity campaign is available here.

More information on applying to remove a past homosexual offence is available here.

For interviews call:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519